Zebrafish Like their Robots Striped, Female and Fertile

skoptsytruculentAI and Robotics

Nov 15, 2013 (3 years and 7 months ago)

66 views



EMBARGO:
THURSDAY, JUNE 7, 7:01 P.M.



Zebrafish Like
their Robots Striped, Female and Fertile


NYU
-
Poly Engineers and Scientists Refine
their
Search for Biomimetic Robots t
o

Lead
Real

Fish from Danger


NEW YORK
,
June
7
, 201
2



A team of
scientists and eng
ineers at
Polytechnic Institute of New
York University (NYU
-
Poly)
reports

significant progress in devising methods for leading live
fish away from oil spills and other aquatic dangers using a species
-
specific robotic fish
. The
researchers say they now also

see

the possibility of extending
their
results into the world of
biomedical research
.

T
he team's latest research centered
the
visual
response of zebrafish

to a robotic fish that was
designed and animated to attract their attention.
The results were
report
ed

today in

IPO
Publishing’s
academic journal
Bioinspiration and Biomimetics
.
This study follow
ed one on

another species, golden
shiners that

investigated fish response to hydrodynamic cues generated
by a robot. In keeping with the differences between the
two species, the new study's findings also
were quite distinctive
, said
Maurizio Porfiri, associate professor in the
NYU
-
Poly
Department of
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

T
he
interdisciplinary
team also includes

NYU
-
Poly research scholar Giovanni Po
lverino,
doctoral candidates

Ni
cole Abaid and Vladislav Kopman

and scientist Dr. Simone Macrì of the
Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Rome.

In the prior study,
golden shiners swa
m behind the robotic fish according to the wake created by
the robot's undulati
ng tail; the hydrodynamics of the wake offered the fish a
n energy
-
saving
advantage
, Porfiri explained
.

In the
current study
, which was conducted in an enclosed tank, the robotic fish remained
in place
and was se
parated from the zebrafish by
transparent barrier
s
. Although the robot moved its tail,
the zebrafish swam in a placid environment and experienced no such swimming advantage from
the robot. Yet the zebrafish did congregate at the barrier
near the robot, proving that the
appearance of the robotic fish was itself a factor in the attraction, Porfiri sa
id
.

The

team fashioned their

robotic fish to look like a fertile female zebrafish, which is attractive to
both males and females in the species
, and
they

painted
it
with characteristic stripes and yellow
accents. However, the robot's size was much larger than that of a live zebrafish: six inches long
versus one inch, respectively.

-

more
-



There were four important findings, Porfiri says.



When
the robotic fish with flapping tail was
adjacent to an
emp
ty control section, both
individuals and small shoals of zebrafish preferred to spend time in the vicinity of the robotic
fish. In other words, fish were attracted by the robot.



When the robotic fi
sh was
adjacent to
a replica
whose

tail was still, the zebrafish moved
to the side of the tank near the moving robot, indicating that motility is
attractive
.



When the robotic fish with flapping tail was
adjacent to

an empty control section and the
tank was

dark, the zebrafish moved toward the empty compartment, showing that they feared
the noise generated by the r
obot's motor
, but also that the motility of the tail was
n’t attractive

if
it was not seen
. Or, stated differently, when visual and auditory stimul
i are together, "the visual
stimulus is so strong that it can overcome what they hear," Porfiri sa
id
.



When a single zebrafish was placed in the control section, zebrafish flocked to it rather
than to the robotic fish, demonstrating that they recognized th
e difference between the two and
preferred their peer.

Thus, for future studies, Porfiri sa
id
, one goal will be to produce robotic fish that flap their tails
silently.

Other directions for the team's future research include building robotic fish that are e
quipped
with cameras and imbued with artificial intelligence, so they can autonomously change their
behavior in reaction to the behavior of the fish being studied; and placing different species of fish
together in an attempt to attract one species and repe
l the other at the same time. Right now, "we
don't have a systematic way to change the behavior of the robot as a function of what th
e animal
is doing," Porfiri said
. "We want to use it to understand different hypotheses of leadership and
communication amo
ng animals."

In addition, Porfiri sa
id
, the team wants to explore how it can apply its robotic zebrafish in the
biomedicine industry, which already uses live zebrafish as an aquatic analog to mice for testing
drugs under development. For example, he postul
ates, the NYU
-
Poly robotic zebrafish could
provide a reliable stimulus when studying the effect of a drug on social behavior.

Partial funding for this latest research was granted by the National Science Foundation. Other
financial support was provided by t
he Honors Center of Italian Universities (H2CU) that
partially supported NYU
-
Poly's Polverino.

The journal article is entitled,
"Zebrafish Response to
Robotic Fish: Preference Experiments on Isolat
ed Individuals and Small Shoals.
"

-

more
-



About Polytechn
ic Institute of New York University

Polytechnic Institute of New York University (formerly Polytechnic University), an affiliated
institute of New York University, is a comprehensive school of engineering, applied sciences,
technology and research, and is
rooted in a 158
-
year tradition of invention, innovation and
entrepreneurship: i
2
e. The institution, founded in 1854, is the nation’s second
-
oldest private
engineering school. In addition to its main campus in New York City at MetroTech Center in
downtown B
rooklyn, it also offers programs at sites throughout the region, around the globe and
remotely through NYUe
-
Poly. NYU
-
Poly is an integral part of NYU Abu Dhabi, NYU Shanghai
and the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) in downtown Brooklyn. For

more
information, visit
www.poly.edu
.


# # #

Note to Editors:

To download photos
, visit

http://research.poly.edu/~resourcespace/?c=836&k=3a3
ee4bbc2
.
Video available upon request.


Contact:

Kathleen Hamilton

718
-
260
-
3792 office

347
-
843
-
9782
mobile

hamilton
@poly.edu