Fish Robots Helped To Find Out Why Fishes Schools

Fish school is an age-old behavior applied by the fishes to move in the waters. Many studies have still left us unanswered about the question that why fish swim schools? There are various ideas that demonstrated that the fishes are fear to get lost in the deep waters or they are bored while swimming alone. But nobody has been able to find out the actual reason behind it.

Image Source – University of Konstanz

The latest study organized by the researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior (MPI-AB), the University of Konstanz, and Peking University has provided an explanation that has been estimated before but never had an analysis to it. The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications. It has been stated that the fish are lazy and want to reach their destination with the minimum effort.

Iain Couzin said “Fish schools are highly dynamic, social systems.”

Adding to it he also said, “Our results explain how fish can profit from the vortices generated by near neighbors without having to keep fixed distances from each other.”

Researchers couldn’t do the test of their hypothesis in real fish so they completed the test using 3D robotic fish having a soft tail fin and swims with a rolling action that performs the act of an accurate movement of the fish. The fish robots were tested in calculating the power consumption in both the states: while swimming in pairs and alone.

Liang Li says “We developed a biomimetic robot to solve the fundamental problem of finding out how much energy is used in swimming.” Further, he added, “If we then have multiple robots interacting, we gain an efficient way to ask how different strategies of swimming together impact the costs of locomotion.”

The test was run in 10,000 trials and they tested follower fish in different positions possible related to the leader. It was seen that the fish swimming in pairs was utilizing less energy regardless of the position in the current. The fish was regulating its tail beat following the leader fish with specified time lag depending on spatial location. Researchers have named this action “vortex phase matching.”

Co-author Mate Nagy said “It’s not just about saving energy. By changing the way they synchronize, followers can also use the vortices shed by other fish to generate thrust and help them accelerate.” 

The real fishes also started following the same method and as the researchers could say by the hydrodynamic model enforced to the body aspect of goldfish by an AI-assisted inquiry.

Iain Couzin says “We discovered a simple rule for synchronizing with neighbors that allow followers to continuously exploit socially-generated vortices. But before our robotic experiments, we simply didn’t know what to look for, and so this rule has been hidden in plain sight.”

So, it has now been concluded that fishes swim in schools to perform more effectively by applying minimum effort and it was managed pretty well by them.

Source – University of Konstanz, Max Planck Institute

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