There is scarcely a day that passes that I don’t awaken with a solitary thought and fall to a restless sleep with that self same question in mind: could a fish pass a driving test? While we haven’t quite reached answer for that pressing query, we’re one step closer with this mini goldfish driven car.
A Netherlands company called “Studio diip” (the same company that gave us the groundbreaking “vegetable recognizer“), has answered the age old question that has plagued scientists and philosophers alike for generations: “If a fish could drive a car, where would it go?”
Using a few simple components: “a standard webcam, a battery-powered Beagleboard and an Arduino-controlled robot vehicle”, these diips have given the family fish free reign over the apartment floor. As the video description explains, “By using a camera and computer vision software it is possible to make a fish control a robot car over land.” That’s a quote I never thought I would copy/paste but that I can now scratch off of THAT list. They continue: “By swimming towards an interesting object, the fish can explore the world beyond the limits of his tank.”
First, what exactly IS an “interesting object” to an animal that spends most of its existence in a small, stationary water-filled rectangle? Anything that ISN’T a neon colored castle or a plaster scuba diver? And secondly, how long have these disappointing carnival prizes been yearning for this type of exploratory capability?
I get that the fish-propelled vehicle is more an exercise in showing what can be done; a cute little engineering curiosity and the winner of the office race versus the guy who was designing a machine that would type short stories based on the twitching of a parakeet. But my response to bored programmers at diips is a simple one: Just because something is possible, does not make it necessary. That being said, go on and finish the “Polly Prose” project–that actually sounds hilarious.