Social behavior is widespread in the animal kingdom, and it remarkably influences human personal and professional lives. However, a thorough understanding of the mechanisms underlying social behavior is elusive. Integrating the seemingly different fields of robotics and preclinical research could bring new insight on social behavior. Toward this aim, we established “behavioral teleporting” as an experimental solution to independently manipulate multiple factors underpinning social interactions. Behavioral teleporting consists of real-time transfer of the complete ethogram of a live zebrafish onto a remotely-located robotic replica. Through parallel and simultaneous behavioral teleporting, we studied the interaction between two live fish swimming in remotely-located tanks: each live fish interacted with an inanimate robot that mirrored the behavior of the other fish, and the morphology of each robot was independently tailored. Our results indicate that behavioral teleporting can preserve natural interaction between two live animals, while allowing fine control over morphological features that modulate social behavior.
- Biological Sciences
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