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A Robotic Spy Among the Fish

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One of these things is not like the others...

A new miniature robot can integrate perfectly into schools of zebrafish, learning how they communicate with each other and making them change direction or come together.

Credit: EPFL

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, working in the Robotic Systems Laboratory (LSRO), have developed a miniature robot that can integrate perfectly into schools of zebrafish.

The team says the robot can swim with fish, learn how they communicate with each other, and make them change direction or come together.

The robot is equipped with magnets that link it to a tiny engine installed under the aquarium to propel it through the water.

The researchers wanted to develop a closed-loop system in which the robot is able to influence the fishes' behavior and adapt its own behavior by learning how to communicate and move like natural fish do.

"The fish accepted the robot into their schools without any problem," says LSRO researcher Frank Bonnet. "And the robot was also able to mimic the fish's behavior, prompting them to change direction or swim from one room to another."

From Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
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