Robotics engineers from Lausanne have implemented a complex and curious experiment: they forced a zebrafish aquarium fish to take a robot for one of them. The task with many unknowns – the machine needed to learn not only to imitate the behavior of a particular species of fish, but also “on the fly” to study the device, psychology and tactics of the work of the pack. Experts overfulfilled this task, the robot, after all, took the place of the leader of the herd of fish.
. When the body length of the robot was only 7 cm, the designers decided to leave only the mechanisms for mimicry inside. When driving, the machine is controlled by an external antenna, which is connected via a magnetic field to the micromotor under the bottom of the aquarium. And he drags the robot through the thickness of the water at the command of the dispatcher – it remains only to wave the tail, imitating swimming.
The robot has the same proportions, shape and color as real zebrafish, but it did a little more. It changes the speed of movement and maneuver, can vibrate and maintain different rhythms of movement, remaining in the pack. At the initial stage, the robot watched the fish and tried to imitate them – they easily took it for their relatives.
Then the experiment was complicated, and the robot spent many hours with ten different schools of fish, swimming in aquariums with different architectures, including full underwater labyrinths. And when the system of machine learning was recruited “mind-reason”, it began to gradually influence the herd, forcing the fish to swim in this direction.
. Bottom line: Swiss robotics has proved that the creation of autonomous robotic systems for deep integration into the real living world is a matter of time and technology, nothing more.