Industrial Electronics

Video: Teaching a goldfish to drive

13 January 2022

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University in Israel have taught a goldfish to drive a small robotic vehicle.

Yes, a goldfish. Driving a robot.

The university said the experiment aims to explore animal behavior, but taken to the extreme. Researchers designed a set of wheels under a goldfish tank with a camera system to record and translate the fish’s movements into forward and back and side to side direction to the wheels.

This allowed the goldfish to have navigational ability that superseded its water environment.

Researchers tested how the fish could navigate by placing a visible target on the wall opposite of the tank. After a few days of training, the fish was able to navigate to the target. The fish was able to accomplish this task after it was interrupted in the middle by hitting a wall and wasn’t fooled by false targets placed by the researchers.

"The study hints that navigational ability is universal rather than specific to the environment,” said Shachar Givon, a Ph.D. student in the Life Sciences Department in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. “Second, it shows that goldfish have the cognitive ability to learn a complex task in an environment completely unlike the one they evolved in. As anyone who has tried to learn how to ride a bike or to drive a car knows, it is challenging at first.”

In addition to the robotic platform, the system includes a camera, lidar and a computer that operates the entire platform.

The full research can be found in the journal ScienceDirect.

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