These goldfish learned to drive. Yes, you read that correctly. In a recent study, scientists have successfully trained six goldfish to drive a “fish operated vehicle” (FOV). The study, conducted by researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, aimed to determine the ability of the goldfish to navigate in different environments.
Since goldfish naturally navigate in water, the scientists wanted to see if they could replicate the same ability on land and other environments. To achieve this, they created a small goldfish tank with wheels on it. The vehicle tank used a camera and remote sensing system that allowed the whole apparatus to move based on the direction the goldfish swam.
The researchers trained the fish to find their way on land by enticing them to move the FOV toward specific targets for a food reward. They even made the task difficult by shifting the starting point to see how smart the fish are. According to a report written by the team, the fish learned to operate the vehicle and could easily navigate in environments other than water.
The goldfish “indeed were able to operate the vehicle, explore the new environment, and reach the target regardless of the starting point, all while avoiding dead-ends and correcting location inaccuracies,” according to the scientists.
The researchers say that the study shows that fish are smarter than most people think. Ph.D. student and lead researcher Shachar Givon says that this test shows the ability of the goldfish to learn complex skills and proves their navigational skill.
“The study hints that navigational ability is universal rather than specific to the environment,” Givon said. “Second, it shows that goldfish have the cognitive ability to learn a complex task in an environment completely unlike the one they evolved in. As anyone who has tried to learn how to ride a bike or to drive a car knows, it is challenging at first.”
Lead image via Pixabay