Robot Translator Allows Fish and Bees to "Talk" to Each Other


Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne invented a robot that can translate what fishes and bees "talk" / Photo by: Ritiks via Wikimedia Commons


Wouldn’t it be cool to know whether animals talk to each other or not and what they are saying? Engineers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne have found a way for fish and bees to communicate with each other. Their answer: a robot translator.

As reported by Tech Times, the robot translator to decipher fishes and bees communications with each other was something that has not really been explored all that much before, on account of most animal communications usually being more plausible when it transpires between two of the same species.

Most animal communication studies have only really used the help of robotics in understanding chicks, cockroaches, and fish, with the most recent fish experiment involving only sending signals for fish to “move in a certain direction.” That’s something the Swiss engineers have decided to top it by not only observing and bridging fish and bee communications, but by upping the ante by taking zebrafish from Switzerland and honeybees from Austria.

In order for the experiment to work, the robot translator was fed with different species-specific communication methods, with the zebrafish robot translator emitting “visual and behavioral cues, such as colors and tail movements” and the honeybee robot translator emitting “vibrations, temperature changes, and air movements.”

Before there was any kind of quantifiable results, though, the researchers had to let the first chaotic 25 minutes roll by, after which time the fishes and the bees were seen moving in accordance to each other’s signals.

The fish were swimming in a counterclockwise direction, while the bees were swarming one of the robot stations.

As observed by a professor of BioRobotics Laboratory in the Institute: “The robots acted as if they were negotiators and interpreters in an international conference.”

Published in “Science Robotics,” the study will now be part of a bedrock upon which future animal behavior and interaction studies can be based.