“Don’t talk too loudly or move too fast”, whispers Professor Tim Landgraf from the Freie Universtät Berlin. “Otherwise the fish will freak out.” He has just pulled up a large curtain which is surrounding a big tank with four small fish. Well, there are three of them, because one of the fish is actually a robot that is moved back and forth with the help of a magnet underneath the aquarium.
The goal, Landgraf explains, is to make the robot fish as much as possible a part of the group of the real fish in order to map the behaviour of the school of fish. “We’re getting better and better at it,” he says. The robot fish is becoming more and more accepted as a group member. It was a matter of taking small and bigger steps. When the fish got realistic large round eyes instead of painted dots, it proved to be an enormous leap forward. “That’s what the other fish were scared to death of.”

Read all the articles in our archive by becoming a member of Innovation Origins. Sign up here as a supporter of independent journalism!

Become a member!

On Innovation Origins you can read the latest news about the world of innovation every day. We want to keep it that way, but we can't do it alone! Are you enjoying our articles and would you like to support independent journalism? Become a member and read our stories guaranteed ad-free.

About the author

Author profile picture Maurits Kuypers graduated as a macroeconomist from the University of Amsterdam, specialising in international work. He has been active as a journalist since 1997, first for 10 years on the editorial staff of Het Financieele Dagblad in Amsterdam, then as a freelance correspondent in Berlin and Central Europe. When it comes to technological innovations, he always has an eye for the financial feasibility of a project.