Call for Papers: Special Issue on Animal-Robot Interaction and Biohybrid Organisms

Animals and robots engaged in different ecological interactions represent biohybrid dynamic systems enabling new multidisciplinary scientific and technological achievements. In animals, evolutionary processes have led to the development of nervous systems enabling process information of biotic and abiotic events and effective reactions. Conversely, recent technology developments have produced relevant advances in robotics and bionics engineering, allowing the design of artificial artifacts with life-like appearance and cognition, that can be perceived by animals as living conspecific or heterospecific agents. This allows the embedding of robots in an animal population or community, producing animal-robot interactions.

This research field represents a paradigm shift in the study of animal behavior, with potential applications to the control of animal populations in agriculture, to the improvement of animal farming conditions, as well as in preserving wildlife. Indeed, animal-robot interactions can have a key role in improving animal wellness and environmental sustainability by mitigating the influence of human activities on ecosystems. Furthermore, understanding animal intelligence through hybrid interactions with robots can be an elective strategy to solve challenges in real-world engineering contexts, and to bring new capabilities to current bioinspired robotic systems, especially when robots have to interact with elements in natural environments, including humans. Furthermore, biohybrid systems can act as distributed networks of sensors and actuators in which animals and robots become advanced bio-artificial multiagent systems with new biohybrid cognitive and physical capabilities.

The Guest Editors of this special issue of Biological Cybernetics consider this prolific scientific and technological field as a key area for future robotics and bionics as it merges the best of biological and engineering worlds, encompassing multiple disciplines such as ethology, neuroscience, ecology, cybernetics, robotics, A.I., bio-systems engineering.

The special issue has been proudly announced in the “Workshop on Animal-Robot Interaction” at IROS 2020, a world first aimed at consolidating the research community working on organism-robot hybrid systems (https://www.santannapisa.it/en/institute/biorobotics/news/international-events-workshop-animal-robot-interaction).

Biological Cybernetics (originally Kybernetik) was founded in 1961 as “A Journal Dealing with the Transmission and Processing of Information as well as with Control Processes in both Animals and Automata”. The name took inspiration from the work of Norbert Wiener, who coined the term “cybernetics”, and was among the journal's founding editors. The journal continues a tradition of publishing rigorous, quantitative theoretical investigations of biological systems, both in computational neuroscience and other areas of theoretical and systems biology.

How to submit: To submit to the special issue, please use the online submission system and select the special issue as the article type. Submission deadline 3 May 2021.  If you would need an extension, please get in touch.

Guest Editors: Prof. Cesare Stefanini (The BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy), Dr. Donato Romano (The BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy).