Animal-to-robot social attachment: initial requisites in a gallinaceous bird

Abstract : Animal-Robot Interaction experiments have demonstrated their usefulness to understand the social behaviour of a growing number of animal species. In order to study the mechanisms of social influences (from parents and peers) on behavioural development, we design an experimental setup where young quail chicks, after hatching, continuously live with autonomous mobile robots in mixed triadic groups of two chicks and one robot. As precocial birds are subject to imprinting, we compare groups where chicks meet the robot as their very first social partner, on their first day after hatching (R chicks), with groups where chicks meet a real conspecific first (C chicks), and the robot later (on the second day after hatching). We measured the behavioural synchronization between chicks and robot over three days. Afterwards, we directly tested the existence of a possible social bond between animal and robot, by performing separation-reunion behavioural tests. R chicks were more synchronized with the robot in their daily feeding-resting activities than C chicks. Moreover, R chicks emitted numerous distress calls when separated from the robot, even in the presence of another chick, whereas C chicks emitted calls only when separated from the other chick. Whether the observed chick-robot attachment bond reflects filial, or sibling-imprinting of chicks towards the robot remains unclear, as the latter process is not fully understood in natural familial groups. Still, these results reveal the necessary initial conditions for stable, cohesive mixed groups of chicks and robots, a promising tool to experiment on the long-term dynamics of social behaviour
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https://hal-univ-rennes1.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01274231
Contributor : Laurent Jonchère <>
Submitted on : Monday, February 15, 2016 - 4:04:15 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 3, 2019 - 4:20:04 PM

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Lucile Jolly, Florent Pittet, Jean-Pierre Caudal, Jean-Baptiste Mouret, Cécilia Houdelier, et al.. Animal-to-robot social attachment: initial requisites in a gallinaceous bird. Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, IOP Publishing, 2016, 11 (1), pp.016007. ⟨10.1088/1748-3190/11/1/016007⟩. ⟨hal-01274231⟩

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