Friday, November 16, 2007

iRoach a Useful Tool to Manipulate Behavior

Cockroaches are a very interesting model system for many aspects of animal behavior. In a recent study conducted at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, cockroaches swarming behavior can be controlled by tiny robots designed to smell and behave like roaches. When a group of roaches were placed with these tiny robots they usually stay around it, even when they were in undesirable conditions (such as brightly-lit areas).

The researchers programmed these tiny roach-sized robots to behave like cockroaches by having them move back and forth in several different "shaded" regions in a small area with a group of cockroaches. The cockroach robots would then stop in between two shaded regions and the researchers observed the cockroach behavior. The cockroaches followed the robot, and stayed in the lit area even though it is against their behavioral rules to stay in a lit area when there are other darker areas in the environment.

This study is interesting to behaviorists because it shows that even the most difficult to tame animals can be controlled using robotic mechanisms.

Posted by Christine Tauras (8)


At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard of animals such as cockroaches and lizard being made into model robots in the last couple of months. I think that this research is valuable in the sense that we are exploring these animals more and I think that it could provide great insight into how these animals function for future benefits.

Posted By: Rachel McMahon (8)

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous CresceNet said...

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At 8:24 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This is interesting but not a surprise. I think that any animals who is introduced to another will follow it around in order to get more acquainted with the new individual. I also suggest that over a certain period of time these cockroaches will stop to follow the robots, since the cockroaches will now know what it is all about. Good article.
Posted by Vanessa Raphael (8)

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Kyle said...

Neat subject, it is interesting that they are willing to follow a robot. It seems like a good way to eliminate other factors when experimenting with behavior. I saw an interesting story about human robots and touching, it said that toddlers treated a robot which responded to touch as a peer compared to a non touch responsive robot which they ignored.

Posted by: Kyle McCarthy (8)

At 9:56 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This is a very interesting article, i would like to know why would the crockroaches follow the robot, and will this work with other animals?

Posted By Kyle Chiang (8)


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