Rat pups and random robots generate similar self-organized and intentional behavior


  • This paper was submitted as an invited paper resulting from the “Understanding Complex Systems” conference held at the University of Illinois–Urbana Champaign, May 2005


Biorobotic research continually demonstrates that behavior and cognition can be the emergent products of (1) embodied agents that are (2) dynamically embedded within an environment and (3) equipped with simple sensorimotor rules. Thigmotaxis is an orientation response to contact manifested in infant rats by wall following, corner burrowing, and group aggregation. Orientation responses have been long thought to be mediated only by sensory or central processes. Here we show that a random control architecture in a morphologically similar robot embedded in a scaled environment can reproduce thigmotaxic behaviors seen in infant rats. We conclude that (1) and (2) may play a larger role than previously thought in the generation of complex behaviors. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Complexity 12: 53–66, 2006