From the automata of the ancient Greeks, to the curious mechanical inventions of the Age of Enlightenment, people have been creating robotic renderings of animals for centuries. It was only recently, however, that technology advanced enough to produce sophisticated robots that biologists can use for studying animal behavior. By mimicking specific behaviors with striking realism, these robots can stand in for (and fool) their living counterparts -- thus offering researchers the one thing that's often lacking in experimental setups that use live animals: control. "Having these robots allows animal behaviorists to try to tease apart the components of complex signals that are important for the individuals and for interactions between individuals," says Purdue University ecologist Esteban Fernández-Juricic, who has constructed robotic birds. Here are robot animals in action that help Fernandez-Juricic and other researchers learn more about animal behavior. linkurl:Esteban Fernandez-Juricic; -- robot house finches and starlings Purdue University Ornithologists...
Courtesy of Esteban Fernandez-Juricic
linkurl:Gail Patricelli; -- robot grouseUniversity of California, Davislinkurl:Terry Ord; -- robot lizardsThe University of New South Wales, AustraliaJosé linkurl:Halloy; -- robot cockroachesUniversité Libre de Bruxelleslinkurl:Jolyon Faria; - "robofish"University of Leeds, UK

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