Advanced Perception, 1998-2000

animal robot interaction

This project was an early experiment in mixing machines and animal worlds. Three chickens, Rhode Island Red hens, were held in a spacious cage together with a mobile robot for 60 days. The robot was programmed to share the space with the animals and to not infringe on their habits and movements. A camera mounted above the cage continuously monitored the state of affairs, the positions of all the chickens and the robot. Information from the camera was linked to a computer where the interaction scenarios were monitored and responsive behaviors generated. Corrective actions and plans were sent via radio signal back to the robot.

The results from these experiments were presented to the scientific community through conference presentations and to the art community through an installation. A gala omelet dinner was held in an art gallery where a world-famous chef, Rudy Stanish, created omelets according to his own secret recipes with the eggs from these chickens.

This experiment was called "Advanced Perception". It was left to the visitors to ponder where the advanced perception was to be found, whether it was in the machine vision and vehicle control system guiding the robot in the cage, the chickens' perception modalities and responses to the robot intruder (in some ways superior to our own), or in the idea of advanced/alternate modes of perception necessary to contemplate solutions for a future in which human technologies kindly intertwine with the worlds of all creatures.

Computational Intelligence in Robotics and Automation article
Space Robotics paper