Dogs might have a new best friend - robots.

A new study has shown that our canine buddies are perfectly willing to interact with robots - as long as the machine is friendly.

The report, published in Animal Cognition and reported by Popular Science, shows that dogs will look at robots' faces for information and follow directions for hidden food.

The robot in this case did not look very human - it was essentially a gym machine wearing a pair of white gloves.

However, there were limitations. The dogs would not interact closely with robots that seemed asocial, only interacting when humans would walk into the room and talk to the robot, and when the robot would say the dog's name.

The asocial robot made 'bleeping' sounds and humans typed into it rather than speaking to it:

"Dogs spent more time gazing at the head of the robot experimenter when the situation was social. Dogs achieved a significantly lower level of performance (finding the hidden food) with the pointing robot than with the pointing human; however, separate analysis of the robot sessions suggested that gestures of the socially behaving robot were easier for the dogs to comprehend than gestures of the asocially behaving robot."

In both cases, however, the robot inspired less interaction from the dog than the human - indicating that our position as 'besties' isn't going to be threatened for a little while yet.

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  • Taiwanese Kissing Robots (NTUST Robot) were exhibited in AutoRob2009 in Gwangju, Korea. They were developed by Prof. Chyi-Yeu Lin's research team in National Taiwan University of Science and Technology.

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