Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Robots That Act Like Rats

Date:
February 21, 2005
Source:
University Of California - Davis
Summary:
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.

This robot was designed with the same basic senses and motor skills as a rat pup. (Sanjay Joshi/UC Davis photo)

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Davis. "Robots That Act Like Rats." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050218162331.htm>.
University Of California - Davis. (2005, February 21). Robots That Act Like Rats. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050218162331.htm
University Of California - Davis. "Robots That Act Like Rats." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050218162331.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 30, 2014) Fresh breath and clean teeth are great, but have you ever thought, "my toothpaste could be doing more". Well, it can! Lots of things! Howdini has 7 new uses for this household staple. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins