New study shows that goldfish can drive cars

In a recent scientific study published in the journal of Behavioral Brain Research, a group of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel explain how they taught a goldfish to drive.

Yes really.

Technically, this was an experiment in "domain transfer methodology," which is what it's called when one organism is embedded in another species' environment and has to cope or adapt to those unfamiliar circumstances. In this particular case, the researchers wanted to know how one species might learn to adapt its inherent navigational skills. As they explain (emphasis added):

We trained goldfish to use a Fish Operated Vehicle (FOV), a wheeled terrestrial platform that reacts to the fish's movement characteristics, location and orientation in its water tank to change the vehicle's; i.e., the water tank's, position in the arena. The fish were tasked to "drive" the FOV towards a visual target in the terrestrial environment, which was observable through the walls of the tank, and 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. These results demonstrate how a fish was able to transfer its space representation and navigation skills to a wholly different terrestrial environment, thus supporting the hypothesis that the former possess a universal quality that is species-independent.

Here's a little more detail on the Fish Operated Vehicle (FOV):

The FOV was composed of a chassis measuring 40×40×19 cm that housed the platform on which the water tank was placed. Underneath the platform four engines (Brushed DC motors) connected to four omni wheels (4″ OMNI, 595671, Actobotics) were mounted on 4 sides of the metal skeleton (Fig. 1A). A Perspex water tank was placed (35×35×28 cm) on the platform so that the water level reached 15 cm. A relatively shallow water level of 15 cm was selected to reduce surface waves while the FOV was moving.

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 (Fig. 1B). If the fish was located near a boundary (i.e., wall) of the water tank while facing outward (Fig. 1D), the vehicle moved in that direction. If, however, it was facing inward (Fig. 1E), no motion occurred.

I know what they say about teaching man to fish. But what do they say about teaching fish to drive?

From fish out of water to new insights on navigation mechanisms in animals [Shachar Givonad, Matan Samina, OhadBen-Shahar, and RonenSegeva / Behavioural Brain Research]

Not to Alarm Anyone, but Scientists Taught Goldfish to Drive [George Dvorsky / Gizmodo]