Sunday, January 23, 2022

Today I learned about the attempts to make goldfish mech suits

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Something attention-grabbing swam throughout my Twitter feed lately: a video of a goldfish that appeared to be controlling a robotic fish tank with wheels, with the contraption following the path the fish was swimming. “Oh no,” I thought. “They gave this goldfish a robot, and now it’s unstoppable.”

Thankfully, it doesn’t appear to be it was achieved as part of some evil plot. The goldfish mech go well with was posted by Ronen Segev, a researcher on a workforce that was wanting into how animals navigate. Helpfully, Segev hyperlinks to a full analysis paper in the Twitter thread, which ought to supply extra perception into the venture.

The paper is formally titled “From fish out of water to new insights on navigation mechanisms in animals,” and its summary describes why the researchers “trained goldfish to use a Fish Operated Vehicle (FOV).” They needed to check its capability to do one thing acquainted, navigating in direction of a goal in an unfamiliar setting — on this case, land. To do that, the researchers tracked the fish’s actions with LIDAR, which let it “drive” in direction of a goal that it may see outdoors of its tank.

Returning to the Twitter thread, although, a remark caught my eye — no, not the joke about The Umbrella Academy’s Carmichael, although it did get amusing out of me. It was a remark about how another person had constructed a really related contraption. In 2014, Studio diip launched a video known as Fish on Wheels, which was meant to exhibit pc imaginative and prescient tech. If you’ve watched Segev’s video, Fish on Wheels will appear fairly acquainted; there’s a fish tank on wheels with a sensor that tracks the fish’s motion to steer the car. (Can we name it a car? Sure, why not.) Basically, Fish on Wheels is the identical concept however constructed for a distinct purpose.

That’s when I began falling down the rabbit gap. Looking into Fish on Wheels led me to a 3rd goldfish Gundam, this one made as a part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Build18 engineering pageant, in accordance to a video posted of the venture in 2017. According to Interesting Engineering, the robotic was in-built three days by college students who “decided it would be awesome if he [the fish, named Walter] could hang out with us!” You can see the end result beneath.

And guess what — shopping a Reddit thread about that venture unearthed yet one more one that made robotic fish bowls. This one was a 2004 artwork set up by Ken Rinaldo known as “Augmented Fish Reality.” It featured 5 robots managed by betta fish and was “designed to explore interspecies and trans-species communication,” in accordance to Rinaldo’s web site. Are there examples from even additional again that I haven’t discovered? How do folks preserve doing the identical factor however seemingly for utterly totally different causes?

And after watching all these touring fish, there’s one factor that I completely, desperately want to know: what would my cat do if he noticed a goldfish rolling by in a robotic tank?

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