How Scientists in Israel are Teaching Goldfish to ‘Drive’Robotic Vehicles


Which driver would you be most afraid to drive on a busy highway? Children? Primates? A goldfish?

Scientists from Israel’s Ben Gurion University have taught small robotic tanks to goldfish.

“Fish don’t drive cars. So we had to train them to understand what we want them to do,” Professor Ohad Ben-Shahar said. And the easiest way to train a goldfish — or any animal really — is with food. 

The fish tank has been equipped with LIDAR, a technology used in some self-driving cars, that scans an area using eye-safe laser beams, a computer and a camera. The fish were enticed into directing their watery vehicle towards a pink rectangle on a wall.

And Ben-Shahar explains that crashes aren’t a concern.

“We equipped the water tank with sensors,”He said. “So it doesn’t collide with obstacles in the environment, in case the fish decides to get too close to a wall.

“But also with the camera that can sense where the fish is in the water tank and guides the vehicle according to that pause of the fish in the tank,” he continued.

It’s funny to see a fish driving a vehicle, but this study does have scientific merit. Ben-Shahar believes navigation is a universal trait that all fish possess and that fish can achieve far greater things than most people believe.

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