Research Purpose

   Robots are recently growing popular with advances in robotics. Therefore, requirements for robots are changing. Industrial robots can operate with high accuracy and repeatability. However, operating these robots is difficult for people without technical knowledge or skill. Therefore, personal robots that are easy for anyone, even older people, to operate are anticipated. It is necessary for personal robots to have new functions to live symbiotically with humans. We then clarify the basic factors necessary for a symbiotic relationship between humans and robots.

  A lot of research has been conducted on robots with human-like faces that can communicate with humans. We can easily operate robots through communication. Some researchers have studied robot-assisted therapy, which has been evaluated according to questionnaire data. However, evaluating human-robot interaction is difficult due to a number of uncertain factors in human communication and the variety of personalities.

  Therefore, as a first step, we have been studying interaction between rats, less sophisticated animals, and robots. We clarify basic factors necessary for a symbiotic relationship between rats and robots based on animal psychology, which has contributed to clarifying human psychology. We then have been conducting interaction experiments between rats and robots. We hope our studies contribute, as well as animal psychology, to clarifying the factors necessary for the symbiosis between humans and robots. 
Communication Between a Creature and a Robot

Fig. 1 Communication Between a Creature and a Robot

Previous Research

  • We developed WM-4 that has the ability of various stimulus presentation, and it's performance is almost equal to those of a mature rat.
  • We succeeded in teaching a rat food feeding area.
  • We developed WM-5 that can act in the tradition of rat's mounting activity.
  • We looked see that WM-5's mounting activity arouses interests in WM-5 among rats.
  • The rats were interested in the robot with rat's smells more than without them.
  • The rats were trained to call the robot to obtain food.
  • We developed WM-6 that has two levers.
  • We developed the experimental setup to perform the interaction experiment between rat and robot for many hours.
  • The robot was able to control the rat's behavioral cycle by changing its behavior.