Researchers from the EPFL “Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne” have developed a new miniature robot that can swim among fish to learn how they communicate with each other and make them change direction or come together.
During the study, the small robot proved its capacities among Zebrafish, said Phys.org website.
Frank Bonnet, from the research team, said: “We created a kind of 'secret agent' that can infiltrate these swarms of fish.”
The robot is seven centimeters long, and is modeled with the same shape and proportions. It is equipped with magnets that link it to a tiny engine installed under the aquarium to propel it through the water.
The researchers chose Zebrafish for their study because they tend to switch direction and move about very quickly.
In this study, researchers aim at studying the social interactions between individual fish, and the robot helps scientists generate targeted stimuli and test the fish's response.
The researchers also wanted to develop a closed-loop system in which the robot is able to not only influence the fish's behavior, but also adapt its own behavior by learning how to communicate and move like they do. As a result, the robot's swimming mechanism gradually improved as the robot spent more time with the fish.
Bonnet said that the fish accepted the robot among them without any problem, adding that the robot was also able to mimic the fish's behavior, prompting them to change direction or swim from one room to another.