In this paper, we study the response of a rat to a rat-like robot capable of generating different types of behaviour (stressful, friendly, neutral). Experiments are conducted in an open-field where a rat-like robot called WR-4 is put together with live rats. The activity level of each rat subject is evaluated by scoring its locomotor activity and frequencies of performing rearing (rising up on its hind limbs) and body grooming (body cuddling and head curling) actions, whereas the degree of preference of that is indicated by the robot-rat distance and the frequency of contacting WR-4. The moving speed and behaviour of WR-4 are controlled in real-time based on the feedback from rat motion. The activity level and degree of preference of rats for each experimental condition are analysed and compared to understand the influence of robot behaviour. The results of this study show that the activity level and degree of preference of the rat decrease when exposed to a stressful robot, and increase when the robot exhibit friendly behaviour, suggesting that a rat-like robot can modulate rat behaviour in a controllable, predictable way.
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