The robopets used in the studies were Necoro and Justocat (cats), Aibo (a dog), Cuddler (a bear) and Paro (a baby seal).

‘Some of these are around stimulating conversations or triggering memories of their own pets or past experiences, and there is also the comfort of touching or interacting with the robopet itself.

‘The joy of having something to care for was a strong finding across many of the studies.

One of the dogs, Aibo, could wag its tail, enjoyed being tickled under its chin, and would dance if you sang ‘If You’re Happy and You Now It’ while the bear, Cuddler, gave people a hug.