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Robotics Science

Robots Assimilate Into Cockroach Society 107

sufijazz writes "Scientists have gotten tiny robots to not only integrate into cockroach society but also control it. 'This experiment in bug peer pressure combined entomology, robotics and the study of ways that complex and even intelligent patterns can arise from simple behavior. Animal behavior research shows that swarms working together can prosper where individuals might fail, and robotics researchers have been experimenting with simple robots that, together, act a little like a swarm.' The BBC also has a video story on this."
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Robots Assimilate Into Cockroach Society

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  • No, not overlords (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @09:39PM (#21386259)
    I am not going to go to the obligatory "robotic overlords" reference, except to note that in human society, a determined and united groups of individuals have caused masses of people to perform actions that contradict their instincts, common sense, or any boundaries and taboos set by their parent societies.

    One conclusion one can draw from this study, coupled with historical precedent in human societies, is that animals come evolutionary pre-programmed to join groups and be subjugated by the rules of said groups, despite better (or alternate) judgment.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Friday November 16, 2007 @09:51PM (#21386349) Homepage Journal
    Yes, that's what the research showed.. the cockroaches will follow the robots 60% of the time. RTFA.

    More interesting, I thought, was that the researchers seemed pissed off when the journalists asked the kind of "how would you apply this?" questions that you just asked.
  • Re:No, not overlords (Score:5, Interesting)

    by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:01PM (#21386423)
    " that animals come evolutionary pre-programmed to join groups"

    Depends on the animal. In social animals, yes. In others (e.g. tigers, bears, moose, spiders), communication will be restricted to mating rituals and that sort of thing. Those methods of communication can of course be mimicked and often are by other species (or sub-species) for their own gain. e.g. orchids and insect mating behavior, moths with "eyes" on their wings etc.
  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @11:28PM (#21386977) Journal
    "We need to push this to it's limit. Like mammals for example."

    I worked on a dairy farm for a while that had ~100 cows. At milking time the farmer would swing open the gate and walk off into the milking shed, seeing the open gate the (old) dog would trot out and round up the cows by itself. Often there wasn't much for it to do other than stroll along behind the herd because the cows also knew the drill. Not sure how the cows knew what time it was since none of them were wearing watches but they would often gather near the gate just before 3:00 in the afternoon and wait patiently for it to be opened.

    It's a neat trick with the robots but I can't see them replacing working dogs and cooperative herds of mammals any day soon, especially since 40% of the time the robots followed the roaches behaviour rather than the other way round.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers