It starts with squirrels and birds. It could end with deceptive robots in the military.
Using deceptive behavioural patterns of squirrels and birds, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed robots that are able to deceive each other. Why is this interesting? Because, according to Professor Ronald Arkin, who led the research project, the findings could prove useful to the military at some point in the future. Arkin and his team started by studying the habits of squirrels, which gather acorns and store them in specific locations. The animal then patrols the hidden caches, routinely going back and forth to check on them. When another squirrel shows up, hoping to raid the hiding spots, the hoarding squirrel changes its behaviour. Instead of checking on the true locations, it visits empty cache sites in an attempt to deceive the interloper.
Arkin and his student, Jaeeun Shim, implemented the same strategy into a robotic model and demonstration – and it worked. The deceiving robot lured the interloper robot to the false locations, delaying the discovery of the protected resources. Said Arkin: “This… could be used by robots guarding ammunition or supplies on the battlefield. If an enemy were present, the robot could change its patrolling strategies to deceive humans or another intelligent machine, buying time until reinforcements arrive.”