Goldfish learn how to drive robotic car in Israel

Scientist says 'it doesn't take long' for the freshwater fish to learn how to operate vehicles

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Goldfish in Israel have learnt to drive a robotic car.

A team of researchers at Ben-Gurion University developed a fish-operated vehicle to prove the freshwater fish can navigate on land.

The vehicle is fitted with lidar remote-sensing technology, which uses pulsed laser light to collect data on the vehicle's ground location and the fish's position inside the tank.

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

Six goldfish each received about 10 driving lessons in the study.

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

Six goldfish each received about 10 driving lessons in a study at Ben-Gurion University, in Israel. All photos: Reuters

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.

Goldfish in the study were rewarded with food each time they reached a target set by the researchers.

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 Mr Segev. “There are other very important and very smart creatures.”

Updated: January 11, 2022, 9:19 AM