This study will change the way we usually look at goldfish! Scientists have found a way to drive a mobile platform (resembling a kart…) by goldfish. And it works, very well even.
Goldfish are like us after all: they need experience to learn to drive. A team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, Israel, “trained” goldfish to to drive a mobile platform with four wheels, equipped with a LIDAR, a camera and a computer positioned in height. And an aquarium, of course!
Are the fish aware of their surroundings?
To stimulate the goldfish, the researchers gave rewards for each crossing of a red line. The first tests took about thirty minutes of “driving”, but the drivers quickly mastered the operation of their vehicle. The task was thus accomplished in less than a minute!
The camera follows the movements of the fish, triggering changes in the direction of the vehicle. A use of technology that is out of the ordinary, for an equally impressive result!
I am excited to share a new study led by Shachar Givon & @MatanSamina w/ Ohad Ben Shahar: Goldfish can learn to navigate a small robotic vehicle on land. We trained goldfish to drive a wheeled platform that reacts to the fish’s movement (https://t.co/ZR59Hu9sib). pic.twitter.com/J5BkuGlZ34
— Ronen Segev (@ronen_segev) January 3, 2022
For the team, it was a question of knowing if the goldfish are aware of their environment, beyond their liquid meadow which is the aquarium. It really seems like yes. The fish were able to drive the platform, explore the environment and reach their target, whatever the starting point, the researchers say. They also knew how to avoid dead ends by correcting their trajectory.
These results demonstrate how a fish can harness its spatial representation skills and navigation capabilities in an entirely different terrestrial environment, they argue. The hypothesis that this universal quality exceeds species is thus reinforced.