Robotic Animals Brought Science Fiction to Life. Now, They’re Helping Us Thrive

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After decades of getting to know robotic animals through books and film, innovators have finally brought them into reality. Robots are everywhere these days. They can clean our homes, deliver our pizzas and give us directions. Their list of uses is only continuing to grow as robotic technologies surpass those dreamed up in imaginative and beloved works of science fiction. The results — both the robots themselves and the things they can do — feel understandably dystopic to some.  

Fear around the idea of a robotic dog, cat or other animal is very valid. Living animals can be frightful, too, so it’s okay to be a little wary if a plastic and metal creature starts barking at you.

Despite the discomfort they might produce, the number of careers available to robotic animals is starting to rival the number of options available to those with Bachelor’s degrees. Robotic animals aren’t here to take anyone’s job, but they are here to help. Robotic dogs have found their way onto the rosters of local police forces. Elsewhere, in hospitals and senior-living homes, robotic animals are providing a path to healing. Robotic insects may even hold the key to restoring honeybee populations.

The simplified definition of technology is “something that makes work easier.” So, while robotic animals do have traits that polarize people’s opinions of them, in many ways they aren’t too different from other tools we use. Not sure how far these robotic animals have come along? We’re here to catch you up.