The Design of the Huggable: A Therapeutic Robotic Companion for Relational, Affective Touch

Walter Dan Stiehl, Jeff Lieberman, Cynthia Breazeal, Louis Basel, Levi Lalla, Michael Wolf

There have been numerous studies that have shown the positive health benefits of companion animals. Unfortunately these animals are not always available to patients, due to allergies, risk of disease, or other reasons. One potential solution for cases in which animals are not available is use of the use of companion robots as pet surrogates. The Huggable is a new type of robotic companion capable of active relational and affective touch-based interactions with a person. It features a full body sensitive skin, silent voice-coil actuators, and an embedded processor for data collection and networking. This paper describes the design of this robot and presents some early results from the sensitive skin.

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