Robots Fight Off Invasive Species

Invasive species are a big problem all over the world. From potbelly pigs in Puerto Rico to kudzu in the American South, life forms that get out of their natural environments can cause big problems.

Mosquitofish are an invasive species that gets less press than feral swine, but they create problems all the same. When they traveled from the United States to Australia, taken there as a natural means of mosquito control, they started eating the tails off of native species of freshwater fish.

We mean that literally

The mosquitofish really eats the tails off the other fish. They consume the tails of the fish, which means the end for those now tailless fish.

An international team of researchers built a robotic fish modeled on the largemouth bass, which is a predator of the mosquitofish. They set the robots to chase the mosquitofish, which responded by losing weight and becoming less fertile.

Yes, they were harmed by fear.

“We made their worst nightmare become real,” said researcher Giovanni Polverino, “a robot that scares the mosquitofish but not the other animals around it.”

They kept showing signs of anxiety for weeks, eating more and being less active.

Proof of concept

As with so many new, exciting changes in robotics, these robots are not actually out there doing their jobs yet. Researchers have shown that they can scare the mosquitofish with a robot and that the mosquitofish is basically neutralized by this fear.

They plan to keep working on the new robot scarefish until it is ready to be released into the wild. Experience has shown that robot scarecrows don’t keep working over the long term. Will mosquitofish continue to be controlled by their fear? Time will tell.

In the meantime, when you need support and service for Rexroth motion control, we should be your first call. As Rexroth specialists, we can get you back up and running fast.


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