Interactive robots in experimental biology

Trends Ecol Evol. 2011 Jul;26(7):369-75. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2011.03.015. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


Interactive robots have the potential to revolutionise the study of social behaviour because they provide several methodological advances. In interactions with live animals, the behaviour of robots can be standardised, morphology and behaviour can be decoupled (so that different morphologies and behavioural strategies can be combined), behaviour can be manipulated in complex interaction sequences and models of behaviour can be embodied by the robot and thereby be tested. Furthermore, robots can be used as demonstrators in experiments on social learning. As we discuss here, the opportunities that robots create for new experimental approaches have far-reaching consequences for research in fields such as mate choice, cooperation, social learning, personality studies and collective behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Learning
  • Mating Preference, Animal
  • Models, Biological
  • Personality
  • Robotics / instrumentation
  • Robotics / methods*
  • Social Behavior*