Like a fish out of water? Israeli team trains goldfish to drive

BEERSHEBA, Israel: Goldfish are able to navigate land, Israeli researchers have found, after training the fish to lead.

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

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

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

Six goldfish, each receiving ten driving lessons, participated in the study. Each time one of them reached a goal set by the researchers, he was rewarded with food.

And some goldfish are better conductors than others.

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

Showing that a fish has the cognitive ability to navigate outside of its natural aquatic environment can expand scientific knowledge about essential animal navigation skills.

“We humans consider ourselves very special and many think that fish are primitive, but that’s not correct,” Segev said. “There are other very important and very intelligent creatures.”

(Report by Rami Amichay and Maayan Lubell, edited by Ed Osmond)

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