Parasite-like robots control turtures by rewarding them with food - and other animals could be next

Parasite-like robots control where turtles roam by rewarding them with food

Researchers stuck robots to red-eared slider turtles (Stock image)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Robots seem to be getting smarter by the day - and now some can control living beings.

Robots struggle to move around well enough to survive daily life,so  researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology decided to harness the power of nature to help them.

Researchers firstly taught five red-eared slider turtles to associate a red light with food and then stuck robots to their backs, New Scientist said.

The robots have a frame which sticks out ahead of the animal's head with five LED lights attached, as well as a tube which can release food for the turtle.

Robots were then able to use the lights as directional pointers to guide the turtles through five checkpoints in a water tank, giving the animal an edible reward when it went in the right direction.

The turtles managed to complete the course several times and got faster the more times they completed it.

Researcher Dae-Gun Kim said it should also be possible to fit other animals such as fish and birds with similar robots.

Nathan Lepora, from the University of Bristol, said: “These robots could be used for surveillance, exploration, or anywhere where it’s difficult for humans or robots to reach on their own.

“There are definitely ethical considerations, but if robots and animals were able to team up to explore a disaster area, it could be really useful."