Animals that live in social groups must interact in order to stay together and move collectively. By socializing a robot with a group of weakly electric fish, we aim at answering fundamental biological questions about the rules that govern social interactions and cause group members to coordinate their movements and come to joint decisions. African weakly electric fish communicate at night by emitting and perceiving short electrical current pulses, a process called electro-communication. Our experiments have shown that it is only possible to integrate a robotic agent into a group of electric fish if it emits electric signals and engages in electro-communication. All other sensory cues, like visual appearance, can be neglected. For full acceptance as a conspecific by live fish, the robot must be able to interact with the animals. We hypothesize that the integration of fish and robot into a mixed society can succeed when the robot's electric signaling interaction is matched by locomotor interactions that are congruent with the behavioral relevance of electro-communication.

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