Goldfish Can Drive Cars, Research Proves at Ben-Gurion University, Beersheba

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University, Beersheba, Israel managed to carry out a study to teach six goldfish to "drive a car". Not a real car, the "vehicle" is a four-wheeled robot train that can run like a car, on top of which there is an aquarium with transparent glass. Each aquarium is filled with one goldfish and the movement of the robot carriage depends on which direction the fish are swimming. Detection of fish movement itself is monitored using cameras, computers, and LiDAR sensors positioned at the top of the aquarium. These various components will later process the movement of the fish, and send them to the robotic train wheel system that supports the aquarium. This is done so that the robot train can run in the direction of the fish swimming. When a fish swims to the front of the aquarium glass, for example, the robot train will also move forward.

Setting the target as the finish line

This research was conducted by researchers to determine whether fish have the ability to navigate in other environments, in this case land, or not. To find out, the researchers trained goldfish in such a way, and set a target in the form of a pink vertical line at the far end of the room. This colored line is used as the finish line that the fish must reach, and there is fish food as a reward if they reach the target. For the starting line itself, the fish are placed at a point located at the end of the room, while the pink target was placed at the other end of the room. Initially, the researchers admitted the fish looked confused and just swam as usual. However, over time, they began to learn that the movement actually made the aquarium they were traveling in move in the direction they were going. Then, they began to look for ways to reach the flashy pink line earlier. Although the researchers included various challenges, such as placing the fish at different starting points, the six fish involved in the research were said to have hit their target, and successfully steered the robot train to the finish line.

Evidence that fish can navigate on land

According to a researcher from Ben-Gurion University, Ronen Segev, this research proves that fish have navigational abilities that can be applied to other environments, namely on land, not just in water. This is because the target that each fish sees itself is located outside the aquarium, even though the fish are actually still swimming in the water.

"Fish are not really primitive animals, they just evolved in a very different environment from ours. There, the fish also have to solve their own problems," explains Segev.

The results obtained from the experiment showed that a fish has the cognitive ability to navigate outside its natural environment, namely in water. The findings could expand scientific knowledge of animals' important navigational skills.

"We humans think of ourselves as very special and many think of fish as primitive, but this is not true. There are other creatures that are very important and very intelligent," Segev said.

Segev also said this research could also be the foundation for similar research in the future, such as challenging fish to find hidden objects. In addition, this research can also dispel the myth circulating in the community that the memory of goldfish can only last for a few seconds. This is because goldfish can remember their movements and reach the predetermined target.


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