EPFL is a project focused on creating devices to control animals. Several years ago, the team created an artificial fish that its real peers mistook for one of their own, even choosing it as the leader of their school. The group’s most recent development is a system for controlling bees.
It’s no secret that all living things have their own primitive methods of communicating with members of their own species. For example, fish use their tails and fins to convey information to others. Based on this fact, in 2017 experts at EPFL built a robot that was so similar to a fish that the others trusted it with leadership over the school.
A different approach is used to control bees: researchers built a device that could change the temperature and the vibrations of the air. When these factors change, the insects alter their behavior.
Finally, it was time to connect these two devices. By enabling interaction between the artificial fish and the robot in control of the bees, scientists managed to force each group of completely different animals (bees and fish) to act according to the other group’s behavior. Meanwhile, the two groups were 700 kilometers apart.
The goal was to get the insects to assemble in a particular location when the fish — hundreds of kilometers away — started to swim counterclockwise. The result was achieved within 25 minutes.
The technology has great potential, because it offers humans even greater control over the environment. This development would give us the power to force insects to pollinate flowers only in particular areas, or keep birds away from airports.
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