Sunday, April 01, 2007


My mum’s always complaining that pets are dirty and messy – Guess it’s time for GUPI!

Figure 1 : GUPI

GUPI is the abbreviation for Guinea Pig and it’s an evolution of “Tamagotchi” that so many of us went crazy over. GUPI is an autonomous robotic pet that is able to avoid obstacles, respond to stroking and noises as well detect infrared beams from the ‘carrot’ gadget that comes with it.

All this is possible with a wide range of sensors. It has 4 legs/wheels which enables it to move freely. GUPI's movements are pseudo-random and it’s even able to engage a maze and come out of it! Infrared sensors in its eyes and nose enable its obstacle avoidance capability. There’s also an altitude sensor in the body and pressure sensor which allows it to respond when it’s being stroked. The ‘carrot’ when pressed, sends out infrared beam that GUPI picks up and homes in on.

The human touching behaviours are classified using haptic interfaces which adopts gridded pressure sensitive conductive ink sheets as shown in Figure 2. The results are used as signals for reinforcement learning in controlling the interactions behaviors with humans. To recognize more sensitive patterns of human touch (e.g. a tickle, scratch, etc.), haptic devices are needed to measure touching pressure at a high sampling rate and at high spatial and pressure resolutions.

Figure 2 : Gridded pressure sensitive ink sheets

GUPI makes 30 different sounds and has 4 different moods; namely the baby state, learning state, happy/normal state and the sleeping state. It is highly interactive and it becomes lonely and scared and goes into hiding if neglected.

The most interesting thing is the unique identification codes in the chipsets that allows it to react to other GUPIs in the vicinity! They might eventually sing and dance with each other if they learn to accept each other and share their food – the carrot which also doubles up as a battery reloader!

It only costs about £35 Cool!

Links : More Info On GUPI

References : Recognizing Human Touching Behaviors using a Haptic Interface for a Pet-robot , Futoshi Naya Junji Yamato Kazuhiko Shinozawa

U036077M Alvin Ong Jun Jie


Chen Song yi said...

I for one do not like the idea of robotic pets because it defeats the purpose of having a pet. Having a pet is supposed to be about taking up a responsibility to love and nuture the pet. Having a pet that looks cute and can be neglected whenever the owner is busy and is there when the owner needs entertainment breeds irresponsibility.

Moreover, having toys that are too interactive may have the effect of reducing creativity in children because now they have less need to imagine as everything is presented plainly in front of them.

On the other hand, having toy pets means that perhaps the number of animal abuse and neglect cases would go down. Perhaps this is really our future, a world where responsibility can be assumed in small doses.

Chen Songyi

dars.edutainment said...

U036418N Tan Chee Boon

Having wheels for feets don't really make it life-like, does it? For a pet that makes sounds, why not get a mp3 player instead? There is not much interaction is involved here here as well. No offence but i don't really see a point buying a robotic pet.

dars.explore said...

Robotic pets is fine if we doesnt compare to the real pets. OF course, in all aspects, real pets are better, cuter and more heart-warming.

However, robotic pets do serve as a good entertaining companion. I still remember the craze of tamagotchi ten years back. It was popular, simply because, it was easier to maintain and it created ownership, responsibility to everyone. Though GUPI and tamagotchi is different, they serve the same purposes - they provide a companion to us, human.

They are not here to replace the real pets. Rather, they are the subsitutes to provide companionship to human who cant afford to own the real pets.

Koh Ling Ying

Edutainment said...

For every product developed, there will be pros and cons. I'm not an advocate of robotic pets, neither am i against it. The invention of such products merely introduces a new dimension to what the future holds.

Why do people have pets in reality? It is for companionship? Or is it for interaction? Or is it for interest? There are many perspectives. Like i've mentioned in another post, there are those who might be allegic to pets and hence such alternatives cannot be undermined. We might indeed cater to certain groups of users. Discarding the idea of innovation without properly reasoning just doesn't do justice to the innovators.

The introduction of robots should complement the human race, we shouldn't see it as a threat - although the movie I-robot might have warped our thoughts a little :) Cheers and thanks for the comments everyone.


dars.edutainment said...

I believe robotic pets and real pets satisfy radically different needs. Real pets are more for companion while robotic pets are better for entertainment. I feel the GUPI may appeal more to younger kids than people our age. In any case, especially for parents, I think GUPI is a good investment as it can keep the kids occupied while the parents carry out their routine, like cooking or rushing of work. The kids can also learn to be responsible by taking care of the GUPI's needs. This could prepare them for real pets in future. Lastly, the GUPI is definitely a pet which requires less hassle with regards to health and maintenance issues.

Lai Wei Lup

Home said...

One can just imagine what's next after GUPI... Would it be BABI?
If the joy of rearing a pet can easily be replaced with an robotic one, will robots made to look and behave like a real cute baby be the next wave of toy robots that will be marketed to simulate the joy of parenthood in humans?
I can only shudder at this thought.
GUPI is cute though and I think my girlfriend wouldn't mind having one.

Choo Teck Kwang Adrian U036224U

Anonymous said...

Although we have seen other robotic pets shown on television, GUPI stands out in terms of its wide range of sensors. Being able to avoid obstacles and react sensitively to human touch, GUPI seems to be closer to a real pet than its predecessors. For those who yearn to have a pet but could never find the commitment, robotic pets like GUPI could be a good alternative. Universities in Washington are actually having a project to explore how to use robotic pets to help the elderly by providing some of the physiological, cognitive, and emotional benefits of live pets. (

In fact, robotic pets could be more than just being a toy. With suitable additions to its functionality, we can use these robotic pets to help us fetch items or even help in simple chores. That would need some functionality provided by the Nuvo robot.

Su Shiyan U036793W

Medical said...

There's nothing wrong with robotic pets, although they'd be closer to a "toy" rather than an actual pet. On the other hand, there are plenty of pet owners who treat their own pets like mere toys.

Heng Kuan Yen