DOES THIS REGISTER?
Remember back when you could fly drones without having to pay the
government money first, and when the only thing you had to worry about was a
midair takedown by an anti-drone hit squad made up of highly-trained Dutch eagles?
We’re sad to have to report that we probably won’t be seeing compelling videos
of eagles handling rogue drones anymore ( https://spectrum.ieee.org/
automaton/robotics/drones/dutch-police-training-eagles-to-take-down-drones), and also that the United States government has flexed its muscles, and
mandatory drone registration is now back on.
This means that the drone that you didn’t have to register and then had to
register and then didn’t have to register, you now have to register.
THERE’S SOMETHING FISHY
Robots may be getting more realistic, but most of
us can still discern a human from a humanoid. Fish, on
the other hand, seem easier to fool.
Researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de
Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed an
aquatic robot that can infiltrate schools of zebrafish,
going so far as to influence their activities. By designing
robots to integrate with animal communities, the
roboticists hope to unravel these animals’ behavioral and social structures by learning more about how they communicate.
“We wanted to study how a robotic agent can be inserted in a fish shoal, and, when inserted, how this robotic agent
could learn how the fish interact, communicate, and take decisions,” Frank Bonnet, an EPFL postdoctoral researcher who
worked on the project, told Digital Trends.
“We created a kind of ‘secret agent’ that can infiltrate these
schools of small fish,” Bonnet stated with a smile. Bonnet is a
post-doc researcher at the LSRO (The Laboratoire de Systèmes
Robotiques) and one of the study’s authors. The robot is seven
centimeters long — longer than the fish it’s modeled after, but
with the same shape and proportions. It’s equipped with magnets
that link it to a tiny engine installed under the aquarium to propel
it through the water. The researchers chose zebrafish — or
Danio rerio — for their study because it’s a robust species
whose schools tend to switch direction and move about very
quickly. The robot has two parts: a magnetic fish; and a motor
which is positioned underneath the aquarium and helps propel
the robot through the water.
To infiltrate the school, the EPFL team identified
characteristics that real fish use to distinguish themselves and
designed the robot accordingly. These included physical traits
(such as shape, color, and markings) and behavioral traits
(including acceleration speeds, size of schools, and how the fish
move their tails in transit). Taking the project one step further, the
researchers designed the robot to learn and adapt from the
behavior of the real fish.
bots IN BRIEF
14 SERVO 02.2018