Of Rats and Men

Photo of the rat arena
The rat arena
Photo of the robot device
The robot device

Using cutting-edge virtual reality technology, computer scientists at UCL and the University of Barcelona have "beamed" a person into a rat facility allowing the rat and human to interact with each other on the same scale.

Published in PLOS ONE, the research enables the rat to interact with a rat-sized robot controlled by a human participant in a different location. At the same time, the human participant (who is in a virtual environment) interacts with a human-sized avatar that is controlled by the movements of the distant rat. The authors hope the new technology will be used to study animal behaviour in a completely new way.

Professor Mandayam Srinivasan, author of the paper from the UCL Department of Computer Science and MIT, said: "Beaming is a step beyond approaches such as video conferencing which do not give participants the physical sensation of being in the same shared space, and certainly not the physical capability to actually carry out actions in that space."

Full story on the UCL website >

UCL Engineering channel (video) >

BBC Technology News report >