Robotic Bad Dog Shocks Humans Into Better Behaviors To Battle Loneline

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
A new project called Bad Dog is tackling the problem of loneliness in the youth of China, with robotic “Bad Dog” shocking humans into better behaviors.

It’s bound to happen in this age of technology–we can become so involved with our digital lives, there is often loneliness in the youth of today, even in a world more connected than ever. Such is the case in China, where a graduate student named Zhang Jianning is hoping his “Bad Dog” project will help make a difference, albeit in possibly a ‘shocking way.’

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The project’s base is a robotic dog named Fuli, and Fuli is unlike any robotic dog you’ve ever seen. Developed to be interactive and engaging with his human ‘owners’ with adorable tail wags and head and face sensors that allow him to ‘enjoy’ petting, he can also help you be a better human, with the ability to send small electric shocks should you for instance not pet him enough or maybe say a few naughty words. Yes, he’s trained to know curse words, and doesn’t believe it’s good for anyone to be sitting by themselves cursing, so he’ll send a little static electricity shock to get your attention.

A robotic dog shocking one for dirty words would certainly do the trick, don’t you think?

Fuli’s battery can go flat if his owner doesn’t take care of him, and Zhang is even contemplating a way that detects just how many times that happens, and whether Fuli just won’t exist anymore if it’s too often. The idea is to have many of the similarities of a dog for the companionship, but to go above and beyond with Fuli assessing his human and his human having something to cut back on loneliness, short of an actual dog.

Fuli watches and senses whether or not his human is doing okay, using infrared sensors to keep track of his owner’s temperature. Zhang says that Fuli will be able to contact first responders if he believes his owner has been sitting/lying around too much, because you know, he could be dead, though Zhang admits that first responders may take a while to get used to Fuli’s alerts being serious.

Fuli also can be a helpmate for his human when not around, allowing the entry of delivery persons via internet smart locks. If delivery people hover too long in the owner’s apartment, Fuli firmly and impersonally dismisses with a, “You can go now.” and sends the delivery person away.

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More and more people find themselves living alone in China, and Zhang said that his experiences living alone gave him the idea of creating something that makes people talk back to something, in a proactive way. The Bad Dog project has tons of backing from big-name companies in China, which is pretty impressive for a 3D printed robotic dog that took only 50 days for prototype and a few days for coding to do all he does. Some of the backers love that Project Bad Dog aims to bring value to young people in China, and showing the future of interaction between people living alone and technology.

Zhang said that at the core, he finds lonely people tend to turn to gamblers and drinkers–which is why Fuli is part of a ‘Bad Dog’ project. Fuli’s disinterested appearance and behaviors seem to be more appealing to the lonely.

And at the end of the day? Fuli hits his wireless charging mat and calls it a night, juicing up in case he needs to give his human a little shock into better behavior the next day.

What will they think of next?

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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