Throughout its history, humankind’s travels have usually brought unwelcome visitors alongside for the journey, and many times introduced species into a new environment for a variety of reasons. These known as invasive species are the reason for widespread devastation in ecosystems, wiping out whole species, and interrupting the natural balance. Researchers are testing the robots for population control of those invasive species.
The mosquitofish is the target of present research by NYU Tandon School of Engineering and the University of Western Australia. Initially from parts of the US and Mexico, it was introduced elsewhere for mosquito control, including in Australia. There it has change into a huge problem, destroying native species that used to eat mosquitoes. Because of this, the mosquito drawback has worsened.
As the main problem with these invasive species is that they don’t have any natural predators which may control their population, the researchers developed robots which mimic the appearance and motion of natural predators. In the case of mosquitofish, the largemouth bass is its main predator. The assumption was that by exposing the mosquitofish to something that appears and moves similar to one among these predatory fish, they would exhibit the same form of the stress response.
Thus far, laboratory tests under the controlled condition have verified these expectations, with the mosquitofish showing clear signs of stress upon exposure to the robotic largemouth bass. They showed decreasing weight and had been discovered to avoid potentially dangerous areas, indicating that instead of focusing on foraging, they were in survival mode. This could restrict their environmental impact, including their ability to procreate.
Who knows, before long the surface waters of Australia could also be residence to the first robotic species of fish.