Cuddlebot is the latest in fur-coated haptic enjoyment from the SPIN lab at University of British Columbia.
(Cuddlebot means therapeutic robotics)
Cuddlebot... is covered in a shaggy coat of ultra-sensitive fur. Perhaps more precisely, the Cuddlebot is a well wired mat of fur. The fur and the piezoelectric sheath beneath lets the creature sense and differentiate between 9 kinds of touch gestures. It can tell if someoneís stroking it or tickling it or scratching it, and, after a while it can tell who those gestures were coming from.
Although I'm sure many of you are thinking about tribbles from Star Trek...
This technology is the only way we will ever get close to intelligent furry robots like Teddy from Brian Aldiss' 1969 story Super-Toys Last All Summer Long:
"Come down here, Teddy!"
She stood impassively, watching the little furry figure as it climbed down from step to step on its stubby limbs. When it reached the bottom, she picked it up and carried it into the living room. It lay unmoving in her arms, staring up at her. She could feel just the slightest vibration from its motor.