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Scientists hope to inject robo-cat with AI to help seniors

科學家研發AI機器貓 輔助長者生活

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

Imagine a cat that can keep a person company, doesn’t need a litter box and can remind an aging relative to take her medicine or help find her eyeglasses.


That’s the vision of toymaker Hasbro and scientists at Brown University, who have received a three-year, US$1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to find ways to add artificial intelligence to Hasbro’s “Joy for All” robotic cat.


The cat, which has been on the market for two years, is aimed at seniors and meant to act as a “companion.’’ It purrs and meows, and even appears to lick its paw and roll over to ask for a belly rub.


The Brown-Hasbro project is aimed at developing additional capabilities for the cats to help older adults with simple tasks, such as finding lost objects, or reminding the owner to call someone or go to a doctor’s appointment.

Bertram Malle, a professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences at Brown, said they don’t want to make overblown promises of what the cat can do, something he and his fellow researcher — computer science professor Michael Littman — said they’ve seen in other robots on the market. They hope to make a cat that would perform a small set of tasks very well.


“It’s not going to iron and wash dishes,’’ said Malle. “Nobody expects them to have a conversation. Nobody expects them to move around and fetch a newspaper. They’re really good at providing comfort.’’


They also want to keep it affordable, just a few hundred dollars. The current version costs US$100 (approximately NT$3,000).


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