Robot-fish interact with live fish

14 November 2012

Title:Closed-loop control of zebrafish response using a bioinspired robotic-fish in a preference test

Authors:Vladislav Kopman, Jeffrey Laut, Giovanni Polverino and Maurizio Porfiri

Journal:Journal of the Royal Society Interface

Scientists have developed robot-fish that can interact intelligently with live zebrafish according to a study published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface today.

Zebra fish Comparison of the robotic-fish to a zebrafish individual. Credit: The Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Researchers at The Polytechnic Institute of New York University explored the interactions of zebrafish with a robotic-fish that autonomously observed and adapted to the live fish's motion. An experimental setup was designed to allow the robotic-fish to change the movement of its tail as the fish approached or receded in the tank. Like a trained leader, a robotic-fish that beat its tail faster as zebrafish moved closer and slower as they swam away was found to be the most preferred by zebrafish.

A robotic fish was placed in a compartment next to one containing a live zebrafish. The preference of the live fish was indicated by the average time spent on each side of the tank; either close to or further away from the robot-fish. The tail-beating of the robotic-fish was controlled in real-time based on feedback from fish motion; what is called a closed-loop control system.

This study has demonstrated that real-time visual feedback from the robotic-fish has a significant role in attracting live zebrafish and influencing their behaviour. Introducing robots in the wild may open new horizons for conservation studies, wherein closed-loop control can be used to manipulate the response of live subjects.

Share this page

Latest news

  • To beard or not to beard 16 April 2014 A study published in the journal of the Royal Society Biology Letters has found that when growing facial hair, men might like to inspect the stubble of their peers. The more people with beards, the less attractive they become.
  • Royal Society Fellows respond to UN climate mitigation report 14 April 2014 The latest UN climate report, the Working Group III Summary for Policymakers from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): 'Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change' was launched yesterday. Professor John Shepherd FRS and Professor Andrew Watson FRS commented on the report.
  • Irish President visits Royal Society 09 April 2014 As part of his state visit to the UK the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins visited the Royal Society. His visit was a celebration of the scientific links between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

For a full archive please see the news pages.