Zebrafish can be influenced by robot fish, that’s the finding published in the June 8 edition of the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.
Researchers hope to use their new robotic fish in an open environment for the purpose of monitoring and controlling fish behavior. Researchers believe the robots could one day help protect endangered animals and control pest species.
Created by teams at Polytechnic Institute of New York University and Instituto Superiore di Sanitá, Italy, the fish are just 15 centimeters long and were sprayed to mimic the look of zebrafish. Researchers mechanically controlled the fishes tail which was used to mimic the swimming pattern of zebrafish.
Researchers placed the fish in a 65 liter fish tank and the robot fish managed to attract individual and shoals of zebrafish.
Researchers say the robot fishes bio-inspired features such as its rounder shape to mimic a fertile female helped it attract other fish. The robot also had an optimized color pattern that was magnified by large stripe width and saturated yellow pigment.
Scientists placed the robot fish in a “fixed position” so they could fully manipulate its tail movements while recording the effects of the experiments. 16 different tests were conducted includes tests for one fish versus an empty space, ten fish versus an empty space, ten fish versus one fish and the robot versus an empty space followed by the robot versus one fish.
Statistical tests were then performed to determine whether the robot acted as an attractive, neutral or aversive stimulus to the zebrafish and whether or not those effects were felt because of isolation or shoal attraction.
Researchers found the fish preferred time in their shoal but when given the option of empty space or the robot fish they chose the robot. Researchers also found that the sound of the robot fish motor took away from its attraction while its tail created attraction.
New studies are already underway, in the meantime this particular study appears to prove a direct correlation between mimicking and fish attraction.