artificial rat: diy open source robot: an open study of human-machine interaction


biofeedback, data visualization, human-machine interaction, installation, manipulation, robotics, social responses to communication technologies

“Artificial rat” is a work in progress. The project is questioning the relationship between the human and machine, provoking interaction between them. I am working on a creation of a rat – robot, which appears in human’s environment, being identical to the physical animal in both behavior and appearance. In the closed experimental space, human will be forced to interact with the “animal”, which actually is just a programmed mechanism. I want to play with the fact that the machine can easily provoke strong emotional reactions in human. This robot should understand human’s feelings, thus using the biofeedback technology, changes in emotional state are going to be send as a signal for the rat so it can response to human’s action. Machine has to look perfect, act naturally and should not bring human any distrust so it can truly affect him. The final bit of this game is when the human finds out that his emotions have been manipulated by nothing but the piece of programmed technology.
The further part of the project will test a contradiction in built for this purpose maze, making human find the way out from it, and rat – examining its correctness. A machine, a rat is judging human’s intelligence this time. The data shall be then visualized and compared in the score of each viewer.

There are two main quests of this project:
– technical : building a perfect machine that is identical to the real animal in its’ behavior
– socio-psychological : provoking a confrontation between the machine and human which results in human’s emotional engagement.

The project is open for interdisciplinary collaboration with an aim of making its’ full documentation available open-source.

This project is being built during Dorkbot Alba -people doing strange things with electricity- sessions in Edinburgh, Scotland with a grand support of Martin Ling.
Developed within the Edinburgh Hacklab. Power!

Project has been presented at:

AVLAB meeting: LaptopsRus @Medialab Prado – Madrid, Spain in June 2010
– The 7th International Conference on Intelligent Environments – IE’11,
Scientific Theatre SciT’11 – Nottingham, UK in July 2011
(thanks to support of MACS Heriot-Watt University)
Scope Sessions – Berlin, Germany in April 2012


Artificial Rat Project: a Study of Human – Machine Interaction abstract
Workshop Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Intelligent Environments
IOS Press 2011