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We can all use an animal companion from time to time—a comforting presence that’s relatively low maintenance, warm, and furry. Pets offers no-drama company that’s hard to find in humans. Still, they come with a few extra responsibilities. You’ve got to find them a petsitter when you’re away, walk and feed them every day, clean up after them.

The answer? Robotic pets. And not just pets. Robotic cats. I know. The cat-dog debate has been going on for eons. It won’t be resolved here. All I’m saying is cats are already independent and low maintenance—imagine if you made them into catbots.

We’re in a new era in which robots provide services once reserved for organic life forms. That increasingly includes companionship. Many companion bots look like—well, they look like robots. But not everyone wants the same kind of metal companion.

2008 study revealed that unlike extroverts who prefer human-like robot companions, introverts tend toward unobtrusive, mechanical-looking robots, basically “more like a box on wheels with a metal head.” Sounds kind of like a cat to me.

See it all at the Catbot Tech Lab