Video: Scientists teach a goldfish to drive a robotic vehicle on land

Israeli scientists say they have created a robotic car and taught fish to drive it.

Photo: Ben-Gurion University / Courtesy

Researchers at Ben Gurion University in the Negev desert created a device that allows a goldfish to move through its swim in a small fish tank placed on a robotic platform.

According to a study published in the February issue of the revista Behavioural Brain Research, gold fish (carp or gold carp) are capable of “driving certain vehicles“, concluded the team of Israeli researchers in the investigations into the ability of this species to adapt and navigate in a terrestrial environment.

“Vehicle controlled by a fish”

The researchers attached cameras that track the movement of the fish and connected them to a computer that guided the vehicle.

When the fish went to the front of the tank, the vehicle moved and when the fish stayed in the back, the vehicle remained motionless, specify the researchers, who published the video of this singular “fish controlled vehicle“:

To complete their investigation, the Israeli scientists placed a target on the outside of the vehicle. When the fish managed to reach the goal, it received 0.002 grams of food pellets in its aquarium as a reward, says the publicly funded study that followed local protocol regarding respect for animals.

After a few days, the fish managed to reach the target without getting lost, “regardless of its starting point” and “avoiding dead ends”, highlights the study, which concludes that the goldfish has the “ability to transfer its spatial representation and its navigational capabilities to a completely different terrestrial environment than its own.”

This is how the “vehicle” of the fish works. (Photo: Ben-Gurion University)

Cognitive ability for complex tasks

“The study hints that navigation ability is universal and not environment specific. Second, it shows that goldfish have the cognitive ability to learn a complex task in a completely different environment from the one in which they have evolved”, says the study.

“As anyone who has tried to learn to ride a bike or drive a car knows, it’s challenging at first,” added Shachar Givon, a doctoral student in the Department of Life Sciences in the College of Natural Sciences.

The study was conducted by Givon, Matan Samina, a Master’s student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering Sciences, Professor Ohad Ben Shahar, Department of Computer Science, and Director of the School of Brain Sciences. and Cognition, and Professor Ronen Segev, from the Departments of Life Sciences and Biomedical Engineering.

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