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Robotic frogs employ condoms and engage in "foot flagging"


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When we predicted the killer robot-frog sequel to those evolution emulating robotic tadpoles we saw last month, we didn't expect the response to be this quirky. An article over at The Scientist details the process by which Professor Peter Narins and his colleagues at the University of Vienna managed to "convince real frogs that a male intruder has just hopped into their territory". How did Narins go about this strange activity? Using robotic frogs equipped with air pumps, speakers, and get this, condoms. Apparently, condoms are so well suited to task of mimicking a frog's croak that the sound can provoke a real frog into sparring with the lifeless and immobile robot-frog. Later on next year, the research will shift onto a study of Staurois natator, the black-spotted rock frog, whose habitat is near running water which Narins thinks makes sound communication impossible. To address this problem, he intends to devise a robot-frog model with tiny leg motors which can communicate using "foot flagging": an apparently graceful movement whereby frogs lift their legs and rotate them in order to convey their thoughts. Are we the only ones to spot the similarity between this activity and Homo sapiens using their toe digits to operate television remotes when they're on the floor?

[Via Primidi]

In this article: Condom, Frog, Robotics, Tadpole
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