Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Robots That Act Like Rats

16.02.2005


Robots that act like rat pups can tell us something about the behavior of both, according to UC Davis researchers.



Sanjay Joshi, assistant professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering, and associate professor of psychology Jeffrey Schank have recorded the behavior of rat pups and built rat-like robots with the same basic senses and motor skills to see how behavior can emerge from a simple set of rules.

Seven to 10-day-old rat pups, blind and deaf, do not seem to do a whole lot. Videotaped in a rectangular arena in Schank’s laboratory, they move about until they hit a wall, feel their way along the wall until their nose goes into a corner, then mostly stay put. Because their senses and responses are so limited, pups should be a good starting point for building robots that can do the same thing.


Joshi’s laboratory built foot-long robots with tapered snouts, about the same shape as a rat pup. The robots are ringed by sensors so that they "feel" when they bump into a wall or corner. They are programmed to stay in contact with objects they touch, as rats do.

But when the robotic "rats" were put into a rectangular arena like that used for experiments with real rats, the robots showed a new behavior. They scuttled along the walls and repeatedly bumped into one corner, but favored one wall. Instead of stopping in a corner they kept going, circling the arena. "When we re-analyzed the animal data, we found that the animals were also favoring one wall over another as they bumped around in corners," Joshi said. "The robots showed us what to look for in animal studies."

The wall-following or corner-sticking is emergent behavior, he said. That means it is not written into the computer code, but emerges as a result of the instructions the robot follows as it interacts with the environment at each instant.

The team is also looking at the behavior that emerges when groups of robotic rats interact using different kinds of rules. This should show biologists what the rats may be doing. Understanding the biology of these simple systems might later inform the design of more sophisticated robots, Joshi said.

The work was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation.

Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdavis.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>