Pregnant robot fish fools zebrafish
June 11, 2012
A bioinspired robot has provided the first experimental evidence that live zebrafish can be influenced by engineered robots — a step toward using autonomous robots in an open environment to protect endangered animals and control pest species.
“This is the first experimental evidence that live zebrafish behavior can be influenced by engineered robots. Such robotic platforms may constitute a valuable tool to investigate the bases of social behavior and uncover the fundamental determinants of animal functions and dysfunctions,” according to the researchers from Polytechnic Institute of New York University and Instituto Superiore di Sanitá, Italy.
The tail of the robot was mechanically controlled by the researchers to mimic the action of the zebrafish itself, attracting other zebrafish. It was also given a rounder shape to mimic a fertile female, which is preferred by both male and female zebrafish, and its color pattern — a magnified stripe width and saturated yellow pigment – emphasized distinctive biologically relevant features.
Ref.: G Polverino, N Abaid, V Kopman, S Macrì, M Porfiri, Zebrafish response to robotic fish: preference experiments on isolated individuals and small shoals, Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 2012, DOI: 10.1088/1748-3182/7/3/036019 (open access)