Scientists at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University claim to have proved a fish’s capacity to travel on land by having it drive a specially developed “Fish Operated Vehicle” around a room.
The authors of a study, published this month in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, found that six goldfish trained to utilize the device were able to navigate their way around the small area and toward a reward.
“Regardless of the starting place, the fish were able to operate the vehicle, explore the new environment, and reach the destination, all while avoiding dead ends and correcting location mistakes,” stated Shachar Givon and Matan Samina, who co-authored the study with Ohad Ben Shahar and Ronen Segev.
The research adds to a tiny piece of research in which animals are given the duty of driving cars, with previous trials demonstrating that rats and dogs can drive around in specially built cars.
However, the Beersheba researchers claim that the fish experiment has demonstrated that navigation skills may be transmitted from a marine to a terrestrial environment, similar to studies that followed animal behavior in zero- or low-gravity conditions.
To conduct the experiment, the fish were placed in a tank with a wheeled apparatus that was connected to a camera that tracked the fish’s movement and a computer system that moved the vehicle in the direction of the fish’s movement toward the tank’s walls.
Several experiments were created in which the fish were able to migrate to a specified region and were rewarded with a little amount of food for doing so. The fish were able to find their route even when the vehicle was started at different spots in the room or the target was moved.
While the researchers claim to be the first to study domain transfer methodology in fish, they are far from the first to let the water-bound to tour dry land.
A group of Dutch computer scientists created a similar device in 2014 that allowed a goldfish to drive around a room. However, in that case, the goal was to illustrate the capabilities of computer vision and, in the words of the project’s creators, “liberate fish all over the world.”