Talking Robots: José Halloy

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Talking Robots: José Halloy
« on: December 22, 2007, 06:33:32 pm »
Talking Robots: José Halloy

In the latest Talking Robots
podcast interview José Halloy,
ecologist at the Université Libre
de Bruxelles, describes the first experiments with a mixed
animal-robot society. His team's
work, published in a special
issue "Robotics" of Science
magazine (see here for
the intro), marks an important step: First, because it involved cracking
at least part of an animal communication system (in this case, chemical
communication between cockroaches). Considering that we know next to
nothing about how most animals communicate, let alone what they say,
this is an amazing feat in itself. Second, because it shows that
animal-robot communication and interaction can actually work. By
changing collective
decision making in a social group, these experiments are, as an
unrelated scientist put it, "a true example of automated leadership".
And third, as also pointed out in a Science
commentary, because this work opens the door to a host of new scientific
possibilities and practical applications. Think understanding
cooperation, group hierarchies or interspecies interactions from the
inside out, and robo-surrogate-chicken-moms, robots replacing cowboys or
MAVs directing swarms of birds. The LEURRE project (also see
an earlier post) is
now over, but a follow-up seems to already be in the works - after
manipulating cockroaches Halloy and his team now intend to study chicken
- checkin it out and
listen in!