“So Long,” Said All The Tank-Driving Fish

Though some of us are heavily assisted by smart phone apps and delivery, humans don’t need GPS to find food. We know where the fridge is. The grocery store. The drive-thru. And we don’t really need a map to find shelter, in the sense that shelter is easily identifiable in a storm. You might say that our most important navigation skills are innate, at least when we’re within our normal environment. Drop us in another city and we can probably still identify viable overhangs, cafes, and food stalls.

The question is, do these navigational skills vary by species or environment? Or are the tools necessary to forage for food, meet mates, and seek shelter more universal? To test the waters of this question, Israeli researchers built a robot car and taught six fish to navigate successfully toward a target with a food reward. This experiment is one of domain transfer methodology, which is the exploration of whether a species can perform tasks outside its natural environment. Think of all the preparation that went into Vostok and Project Mercury.

The Drive for Food

The researchers were inspired by a another team that taught rodents and dogs to reach a target via automated vehicle, and a different contraption called Fish on Wheels that serves this same purpose. Essentially, this Fish Operated Vehicle (FOV) is a tank on a standard-looking robotic platform that’s outfitted with a top-down camera. The fish’s movements are tracked and translated to driving commands that wheel the platform around.

Here’s what we know about the FOV: the frame is 40 cm x 40 cm x 19 cm, and it moves around on four omni wheels, each of which is driven by a brushed DC motor. The acrylic tank is 35 cm x 35 cm x 28 cm and was filled with 15 cm of water. Enough for the fish, but not so much that it sloshed around and spilled out.

It only took ‘several’ days of training before the fish successfully navigated to their food target from different starting points in the room. Surprisingly, they were not fooled by false targets, nor were they dismayed when they ran the tank into walls. The team also showed that the fish used several types of cues to drive the tank, including the color and location of the target.

Is the ability to navigate universal to all species, independent of environment? This study seems to suggest it, though the paper itself is only available in snippets without payment or institutional access. You can see a video of the (FOV) in action below.

Animals Being Bros

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen animals being smart, or even the first instance of fish behind the wheel. Some animals are even soothed by robotic platforms underneath them. Most recently, we learned about some rats that learned to play Doom in an automated VR arena by running atop a sphere that works like an upside-down mouse.

Some might argue that there’s no utility in these experiments. If it’s results you want, then use pigeons to guide your missiles, or magpies to muster messes of Marlboros.

Thanks for the tip, [chaosbc]!

19 thoughts on ““So Long,” Said All The Tank-Driving Fish

      1. Yup, but they only had soviet tanks to train the dogs with. So the dogs only ever blew up soviet tanks. Didn’t recognise the tanks from the other side as targets. Early demonstration about careful selection of trainimg data.

    1. love that comment. When I did my PhD the results were published. The Tax payer pays so much for research (through CDC, NIH, NOAA, NASA etc or directly) that it should all be free, and since all countries do this, there should be free exchange of Knowledge.
      How about College tuition can not exceed the graduates first year salary!

  1. What a sad existence you must lead, having fallen for the hoax of such a depressing, self-defeating world-view. I’m praying for a softened heart and eyes opened to the knowledge of God and His grace and love; for you and all others who think like you.

    1. What a sad existence you must lead, having fallen for the hoax of such a depressing, self-defeating world-view. I hope one day you will free yourself from the false belief in God and His grace and love; for you and all others who think like you.

    2. where is the self defeating sad world view? LOL read it carefully. also is the softened heart the new American southern bless ye heart? is your bases for attacking me that you are implying that I either believe god doesn’t exist or y that i believe in god in a definition which is not like yours. if the first your wrong if the second, welcome to herd and tribal rule. god warriors assemble and destroy <–that always works out in history lol

      if you want me to express real sad and depression info , well look at the lives of many in the word living in war, hunger, poverty, domination, bodily violation, indentured servitude, and many more atrocities fomented by man. of course man will say it is absolved of any responsibility because it must have been the devil who made them do it . also there is the hierarchy with billions in asset hidden like most corporations that in most places are non taxable and where does that money go. don't pray for me, pray for god to do "it's" part and pray and go out and make actions that truly make peoples station in life better.

      ego with the view of the center of and be all of all is innately a human trait albeit not exclusive to the species though more prolific in ratio it observation of all species. <—-it's a good thing and a bad thing. I won't go deep into this subject as it's a lived and learned experience, usually expedite by spending days in the desert in isolation for some or you could do a deprivation chamber, or a whole lot of substance safer than ergot (most likely place revelation of the past were derived from, not to discredit what was revealed in the reflection of the mind)

      Now you have an ego I have an ego. your ego decided to denigrating my[ego] existence by saying it's existence is worthless [please sir can i have some more , lol ]. then {your ego] attempts to absolve it self by using words like must, therefore you mustn't have really say what you said about my existence. then you go on to a backhanded prayer for my ego to have a self revelation,
      (now if you really meant it thank you and may you also take the time to self review)
      all while confident in your egos view which is most likely derived by the fact that if your wrong the onus falls on an entity that is infallible, and infallibility removes the possibility of being wrong therefore you can never be wrong and never have to question your-self or views.

      knowing one's self is to know your fellow mankind. to dissect this would be another book.

      it's ok we all have an ego and it's job is to protect us. most of life is auto-pilot with the captain. and if you need to off load some of that burden to a deity so be it. all I'm saying is nothing in life is a we perceive it to be, that's not to say life is pointless. I would expound on it more however this has already become a book in first draft and the reward for it is not a good enough ROI for more
      ok im bored righting now
      show me more animal (- humans) doing feats of survival so we may watch the primates oh and ah. seriously i want more, this primate likes to clap or is it this clump of dust and mud likes to clap

      TL;DR I was bored and decided to respond thereby validating my boriiiing! existence darling {i love it} and my scathing discontent of the myth the legend the abusive boyfriend or girlfriend (the human representation of god, brought to you by kings of the mortal) but is'nt that what the internet is for, arguing with fools and being a fool, argh maties SAH-ree (sorry) for the tangential flow, is it called tangential just cant' abstract it down anymore.
      anyone feel free to debate/ respond / expound if you like . I will check in one or two more times

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