After the human/robot interaction, another trend tis the mixed-societies composed of animals and artificial agents

Robot/Robot and robot/human interactions are an important new trend in the field of HCI (as mentionned here). As a matter of fact, there is another tendency in robot research lately: mixed societies composed of animals and artificial agents. An example of this topic is the "Leurre" project (EU-funded project):

LEURRE is a project on building and controlling mixed societies composed of animals and artificial agents. The main goals are:
  • to study, experimentally and theoretically, the global behaviours of mixed-societies composed of animals and artificial agents;
  • to develop models and tools for such mixed-societies;
  • to provide a general methodology towards the control of mixed-societies;
  • to validate the concepts by applying this methodology to the control of experiments in the laboratory and in agriculture.

An interesting summary of the project in the following paper: Building Mixed Societies of Animals and Robots by Caprari, G., Colot, A., Siegwart, R., Halloy, J. & Deneubourg, J.-L. IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine. 2004. .

They designed insect-like robots called insbot. The mixed society is made-up of American cockroaches and insbots:

The most interesting results is reported as follows by the PCWorld:

</td InsBot, a small robotic interloper that is capable of infiltrating groups of roaches, making friends with them, and luring them to places where exterminators can do their thing. InsBot gains the trust of the insects by mimicking their movements and scent.

Yes the InsBot has the capacity to modify its friends’ behaviour! The point is to control animals thanks to technology. There is a similar project at the University of Singapore which I already mentioned in this blog: Poultry Internet. Another related project consists in letting an animal like a cockroach to control/interact with a robot.