Scientists taught this goldfish to drive

He won’t be getting his licence anytime soon, but the new study has produced some remarkable findings.

“Two goldfish are in a tank. One says to the other: ‘So, do you actually know how to drive this thing?’”

That classic knee-slapper might not be as surreal as you once thought, because it turns out the orange pond-dwellers are actually pretty handy ‘behind the wheel.’

At least, that’s according to scientists at the Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

Documented in the recently-published research paper “From fish out of water to new insights on navigation mechanisms in animals,” the study aimed to demonstrate the ability of animals to manoeuvre within new surroundings.

Six goldfish – each named after characters from Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice – were involved in the study, and all successfully developed rudimentary driving skills.

So, how did it work?

A lidar sensor mounted above the the fish’s watery prism measured movement in real time, and turned the wheels of the 40cm by 40cm electrified chassis accordingly (see the video below).

“The fish’s control of the vehicle was enabled by streaming the video signal from the camera to the computer which performed segmentation and detection to find the fish’s location and orientation in the water tank,” the abstact says.

“If the fish was located near a boundary of the water tank while facing outward, the vehicle moved in that direction. If, however, it was facing inward, no motion occurred.”

After learning how to correspond their own positioning with that of the vehicle, the aquatic vertebrates were eventually able to ‘steer’ through an obstacle course to collect a food-based reward.

You’re unlikely to be overtaken by Nemo on the motorway anytime soon, but the results are pretty remarkable nonetheless.

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