Robot fish. Who would have thought that would be something that us aquarium enthusiasts would be able to actually see in our lifetime? As the science of robotics makes progress, they’re naturally exploring underwater.
In this video, for example, a robotics lab at NYC uses robotic fish to study the behavior of zebrafish (the lab rats of the underwater world!) in a controlled environment. Measuring how the zebrafish react to a predator can be difficult when the predator doesn’t act consistently, but replacing that predator with a robot means it will always act in a predictable way. The team uses 3D printers in the creation of a realistic-looking robot “predator”, and the robot can even be controlled via an iPhone app.
What’s the point of all this research, you might be asking yourself? Well, Dr. Porfiri is looking to practical, real-world implications, such as the ability to control the behavior of fish in the ocean and get them to swim away from an oil spill.
However, it’s difficult not to imagine how fun it would be to have a robot fish in our own aquariums and to be able to play and interact with the real fish to see what they would do!