Scientists wanted to see if goldfish could learn how to navigate on dry land—and, and this custom water-filled robotic tank was the result. Put simply, this bizarre experiment is designed to see if a fish’s navigation skills are universal regardless of their environment, or “domain transfer methodology” in technical terms. The waterfilled tank on wheels basically moves in response to the movements and orientation of the fish.
To pull this off, the fish first connected their own swimming movements to that of the vehicle for navigation purposes before they were given a destination, or a pink target board in a room with a food reward when the vehicle touched it. Scientists attached a camera system attached to this vehicle to record and translate the fish’s swimming directions. It took several days of training, but the fish succeeded in navigating the vehicle to the target from different starting positions in the room.
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Recently, we even ventured out to the coral reef of Eilat in an ongoing attempt to study navigation on a larger, more natural scale. So we are always trying to challenge ourselves – and our fish. The idea of having the fish navigate on land seemed exactly like the impossible sort of challenge we like to tackle. Lucky for us it was not so impossible after all,” said Shachar Givon from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.