Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

Can You Teach a Goldfish to Drive?

A new experiment suggests these household fish actually make good drivers.

While it may seem like fish will drive cars when pigs fly, in a new experiment scientists put goldfish’s sense of direction to the test.

Scientists at Ben-Gurion University in Israel taught several goldfish to drive a robotic “car”–essentially the opposite of a submarine, a tank of water on wheels–around a room. Teaching goldfish to navigate such unfamiliar terrain may seem like a fish-out-of-water idea, but they took to it like naturals.

The motorized fish tank was equipped with a camera to track the fish’s position. When the goldfish swam towards one of the walls, the fishmobile drove in that direction.

The researchers trained the fish over a dozen 30-minute sessions to drive to the center of a small room towards a pink board by giving the fish a treat whenever it arrived at its destination. In the first session, the goldfish averaged between 2-3 successful trips. By the end of the experiment, the fish were averaging between 17-18 successful trips per session.

As with humans, some of the fish took their driver’s ed quicker than others– taking faster and more direct paths to their target.

Throughout the experiment, researchers changed up the starting position of the fishmobiles. Even in different locations, the goldfish were still able to reach the pink board. This finding ruled out the possibility that the fish were just memorizing the pattern of movements to get to their reward. These marine animals were actually planning new routes to get to their destination.

From fish out of water to accomplished motorists.

“That was pretty conclusive that the fish actually navigate,” said Ohad Ben-Shahar, coauthor of the study. The animals’ sense of direction and orientation isn’t limited to the water.

After a successful bout of driving school, the team let one of the goldfish take a joyride throughout the entire building. “And it actually started to explore. It went down one of the corridors and started to sneak away,” said Ben-Shahar.
Maybe next they’ll teach a fish how to ride a bicycle. source

Fish Taught to Drive its Tank by Scientists at Israeli University

Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have trained a fish to drive its own tank around. A camera mounted above the the animal’s water tracks its movement and steers the vehicle. The research was carried out to investigate how animals navigate.

Goldfish taught to drive little land vehicle to desired targets

The fish operated vehicle. A. The fish operated vehicle is composed of a chassis with 4 electric motors equipped with omni wheels, and a camera together with a LIDAR to collect data on fish position and vehicle position in space, respectively. B. View of a fish from the camera: fish contour (blue), tail (yellow), direction vector (green) are automatically extracted from the image and fed to the control system of the wheels. C. The fish operated robot and arena, bird’s eye view. The enclosure was created by the room walls and a curtain where the target was placed. D. Instance of fish quadrant location and direction correlating; as a result, the vehicle moves in the direction of the arrow. E. Fish location is far from the water tank wall; the vehicle motors do not generate movement. Credit: Behavioural Brain Research (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2021.113711

A team of researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has taught goldfish to pilot a tiny land vehicle. In their paper published in the journal Behavioral Brain Research the group describes the vehicle, how the fish were taught to use it and the navigational skills they displayed.

Prior research has shown that some animals have surprising skills—rats, for example, are not only capable of driving around in little rat cars, but can use them to get to a desired destination. In this new effort, the researchers found that goldfish have similar abilities.

The work by the team in Israel was a means to learn more about navigational skills in general. More specifically, they wanted to know if goldfish, like other creatures, are able to use domain-transfer methodology by which a creature applies one set of  to multiple environments. To find out, they built a fish-operated vehicle (FOV): a small fish tank mounted on a wheeled frame. The team also fitted the FOV with a pole-mounted camera, processor and a LIDAR system pointed down at the fish in the tank. The LIDAR and camera were used to determine where the fish was in its tank and its orientation, and where the  was in relation to its environment. The processor used the data to decide which direction to move the FOV. When a test fish pointed itself at a target, the FOV would drive in that direction.

The researchers then allowed the fish to meander around in their little fish tanks in random fashion and to note the impact of their actions on the movement of the FOV. Next, they added targets for the fish—if they reached one of them, the fish would get an immediate food reward. Over time, the researchers found that the fish came to understand that their actions could impact the movement of the FOV in desired ways, leading them to a tasty reward. Next, the  changed the environment—the fish drove their little FOV around both indoor and outdoor arenas and with changing targets and obstacles. They found the  had no problems adapting; they drove straight for their reward, demonstrating their ability to use the FOV to navigate to desired locations. source

Scientists taught goldfish to drive – and it turns out they’re pretty good at it

Goldfish are capable of navigating on land, Israeli researchers have found, after training fish to drive.

The team at Ben-Gurion University developed an FOV – a fish-operated vehicle. The robotic car is fitted with lidar, a remote sensing technology that uses pulsed laser light to collect data on the vehicle’s ground location and the fish’s whereabouts inside a mounted water tank.

A computer, camera, electric motors and omni-wheels give the fish control of the vehicle.

“Surprisingly, it doesn’t take the fish a long time to learn how to drive the vehicle. They’re confused at first. They don’t know what’s going on but they’re very quick to realize that there is a correlation between their movement and the movement of the machine that they’re in,” said researcher Shachar Givon.

Six goldfish, each receiving around 10 driving lessons, took part in the study. Each time one of them reached a target set by the researchers, it was rewarded with food.

And some goldfish are better drivers than others.

“There were very good fish that were doing excellent and there were mediocre fish that showed control of the vehicle but were less proficient in driving it,” said biology professor and neuroscientist Ronen Segev.

Showing that a fish has the cognitive capability to navigate outside its natural environment of water can expand scientific knowledge of animals’ essential navigation skills.

“We humans think of ourselves as very special and many think of fish as primitive but this is not correct,” said Segev. “There are other very important and very smart creatures.” source