Bidirectional interactions facilitate the integration of a robot into a shoal of zebrafish Danio rerio

Many studies on collective animal behavior seek to identify the individual rules that underlie collective patterns. However, it was not until the recent advancements of micro-electronic and embedded systems that scientists were able to create mixed groups of sensor-rich robots and animals and study collective interactions from the within a bio-hybrid group. In recent work, scientists showed that a robot-controlled lure is capable of influencing the collective decisions of zebrafish Danio rerio shoals moving in a ring and a two-room setup. Here, we study a closely related topic, that is, the collective behavior patterns that emerge when different behavioral models are reproduced through the use of a robotic lure. We design a behavioral model that alternates between obeying and disobeying the collective motion decisions in order to become socially accepted by the shoal members. Subsequently, we compare it against two extreme cases: a reactive and an imposing decision model. For this, we use spatial, directional and information theoretic metrics to measure the degree of integration of the robotic agent. We show that our model leads to similar information flow as in freely roaming shoals of zebrafish and exhibits leadership skills more often than the open-loop models. Thus, in order for the robot to achieve higher degrees of integration in the zebrafish shoal, it must, like any other shoal member, be bidirectionally involved in the decision making process. These findings provide insight on the ability to form mixed societies of animals and robots and yield promising results on the degree to which a robot can influence the collective decision making.

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PLoS One, 14, 8, e0220559
Aug 20 2019

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 Record created 2019-08-21, last modified 2020-04-20

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