Robohub.org
 

Using a robotic dummy fish to study social behaviors

by and
05 December 2016



share this:
dummy-fish-2

Using ethorobotics, researchers from the BioRobotics Institute and the Zoology Institute of Bonn University published a novel ‘dummy fish’ to study the social behavior of weakly-electric fish Mormyrus rume (Boulenger) (Osteoglossiformes: Mormyridae).

Ethorobotics is an emerging field combining the interests of roboticists and biologists. It aims at investigating and influencing the behavior and social interactions of animal species through robotic agents. These agents are designed around different cues that facilitate their acceptance and lure animals. Once the robots have been accepted in the animal group, they are leveraged to feed information into the animal societies and influence their behavior. In this way, it is possible to observe how animal groups react to different stimuli and unveil the principles behind their social interactions.

The ability to create robots that can influence animal behavior moves us not only closer to a deeper understanding of social interactions in living beings but also stands to make a remarkable socio-economic impact on our daily lives with applications like control of animal populations in agriculture, improvement of animal farming conditions, waste management, air traffic control and protection of endangered species.

While most state-of-the-art research focusses on visual or chemical cues, researchers in this study explored electric signals as communication means to interact with weakly electric fish, the Mormyrus rume. For example, Mormyrids were shown to rely on their electro-sensory capabilities for territorial behavior, mate choice, or group formation and coherence in shoaling. The researchers used mormyrids as a model organism because electric signals can easily be brought under the experimenter’s control by means of electrical playback signals, allowing for a fine tuning of the cues sent to the fish.

electro-fishes

Through rapid prototyping, the researchers developed a dummy fish with a morphology analogous to its natural counterpart. The robot was equipped with two emitting electrodes — integrated at the tip of the snout and the very end of the tail — as well as several receiving electrodes distributed along the body. This spatial layout allows for generating signals with a highly specific, electric fingerprint recognized by Mormyrids. The robot was also equipped with a soft, silicone tail that can oscillate at different frequencies and amplitudes.

Several experiments observed the reaction of a single Mormyrid while the dummy fish performed selective activation of caudal fin oscillation and electric signalling. The tested combinations of cues evoked different attraction responses. Ultimately, the experiments showed that the electric signal played a crucial role as a key stimulus in inducing “following behavior,” while there was no significant effect of motion pattern on attractiveness of the dummy. However, realistic motion helped when convincing a group of Mormyrids; similar experiments showed the fish were more attracted by the dummy fish generating an electric signal combined with tail movement. Eliciting a following behavior in the fish is the first step toward investigating more complex social behaviors through closed-loop feedback experiments based on electrocommunication.

Read the research paper here.


If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to read:

See all the latest robotics news on Robohub, or sign up for our weekly newsletter.



tags: , , , ,


Elisa Donati is a postdoctoral researcher in BioRobotics
Elisa Donati is a postdoctoral researcher in BioRobotics

Stefano Mintchev is a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL.
Stefano Mintchev is a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL.





Related posts :



Robotics Today latest talks – Raia Hadsell (DeepMind), Koushil Sreenath (UC Berkeley) and Antonio Bicchi (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia)

Robotics Today held three more online talks since we published the one from Amanda Prorok (Learning to Communicate in Multi-Agent Systems). In this post we bring you the last talks that Robotics Today (currently on hiatus) uploaded to their YouTube channel: Raia Hadsell from DeepMind talking about ‘Scalable Robot Learning in Rich Environments’, Koushil Sreenath from UC Berkeley talking about ‘Safety-Critical Control for Dynamic Robots’, and Antonio Bicchi from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia talking about ‘Planning and Learning Interaction with Variable Impedance’.
21 October 2021, by and

Sense Think Act Pocast: Erik Schluntz

In this episode, Audrow Nash interviews Erik Schluntz, co-founder and CTO of Cobalt Robotics, which makes a security guard robot. Erik speaks about how their robot handles elevators, how they have hum...
19 October 2021, by and

A robot that finds lost items

Researchers at MIT have created RFusion, a robotic arm with a camera and radio frequency (RF) antenna attached to its gripper, that fuses signals from the antenna with visual input from the camera to locate and retrieve an item, even if the item is buried under a pile and completely out of view.
18 October 2021, by

Robohub gets a fresh look

If you visited Robohub this week, you may have spotted a big change: how this blog looks now! On Tuesday (coinciding with Ada Lovelace Day and our ‘50 women in robotics that you need to know about‘ by chance), Robohub got a massive modernisation on its look by our technical director Ioannis K. Erripis and his team.
17 October 2021, by
ep.

339

podcast

High Capacity Ride Sharing, with Alex Wallar

In this episode, our interviewer Lilly speaks to Alex Wallar, co-founder and CTO of The Routing Company. Wallar shares his background in multi-robot path-planning and optimization, and his research on scheduling and routing algorithms for high-capacity ride-sharing. They discuss how The Routing Company helps cities meet the needs of their people, the technical ins and outs of their dispatcher and assignment system, and the importance of public transit to cities and their economics.
12 October 2021, by

50 women in robotics you need to know about 2021

It’s Ada Lovelace Day and once again we’re delighted to introduce you to “50 women in robotics you need to know about”! From the Afghanistan Girls Robotics Team to K.G.Engelhardt who in 1989 ...
12 October 2021, by and





©2021 - ROBOTS Association


 












©2021 - ROBOTS Association