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Big Fish: Israeli scientist teach goldfish to drive

Beersheba, Israel ⁠— The old adage, “like a fish out of water,” could soon adopt a new meaning, thanks to Israeli scientists that claim they taught a goldfish to drive.

Scientists from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University say they have successfully taught a goldfish to maneuver a robotic car on land via a top-down camera that monitors fish movements around a small tank.

With a setup consisting of LIDAR, a computer, a camera and a water-tank fit with four wheels, the machine’s camera uses motion-sensing technology to send a signal to one of the machine’s four wheels when the fish swims close to any side of the tank. Over time, the fish appeared to learn their movements would correspond to the movements of the vehicle. 

The fish were trained to reach a pink-coloured target at the opposite end of the room. If successful, they would receive a reward in the form of fish food. The fish repeatedly proved they could successfully reach the target, said scientists, even maneuvering toward it when obstacles were placed in its way.

The peer-reviewed research was published in the Behavioural Brain Research journal. The scientists say the results of their experiment “hint that navigational ability is universal rather than specific to the environment,” said Shachar Givon, a PhD student at the university’s Life Sciences department, who worked on the experiment.

Click here to watch Ben-Gurion University’s video of the experiment.

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