Fish out of the water: Scientists teach goldfish to drive a robotic car to study navigation skills

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In a recent experiment, scientists taught a goldfish to operate a robotic car. The experiment was an attempt to test goldfish’s navigational skills and study animal behavior. The robot car was specially designed for this purpose. Designed by scientists from Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, the Fish Operated Vehicle (FOV) consisted of a rectangular platform with a set of wheels on each side. The platform carried a goldfish tank and a camera system that recorded and translated the movements of the fish. According to its movements, the device’s wheels would move forwards, backwards and sideways.

The scientists placed a clearly visible target on the wall opposite the aquarium and examined the movement of the fish on it. Its ability to propel the device towards the target would determine important properties about animals’ navigational skills.

The study was published in the journal Behavioral Brain Research last month. In the abstract of the paper, the researchers wrote: “To this end, we trained goldfishers to use a Fish Operated Vehicle (FOV), a terrestrial platform with wheels that reacts to the movement characteristics, location and orientation of the fish in its water tank change the vehicle; ie the position of the water tank in the arena. “

Scientists conducted the experiment to find out whether there are universal properties in the animal kingdom that are independent of species, ecology, and brain structure. The experiment showed how a species would react in an alien environment to carry out otherwise familiar navigational activities.

The goldfish needed a few days of training. After that, it could successfully steer the field of view towards a specific target. This proved that his navigational skills were not limited to an aqueous environment and could adapt those skills to a terrestrial environment as well.

The goldfish navigation video was uploaded to the Ben Gurion University official YouTube channel. Watch the video here:

According to a report by The Independent, Shachar Givon, a graduate student in the Department of Life Sciences of the Faculty of Science, said in a statement that the results suggest that navigational skills are universal rather than environmental. Second, it shows that goldfish have the cognitive ability to learn a complex task in a completely different environment than the one in which they evolved.

The scientists said that after training, the goldfish was able to operate the vehicle and reach its destination from any starting point. It has also learned to avoid dead ends and correct location inaccuracies.

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