In a study detailed last week in the Institute of Physics Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, scientists may provide a new way for using autonomous robots in an open environment to monitor and control fish behavior.

In the future, water-based robots could potentially contribute to the protection of endangered animals and the control of pest species.

The robot, created by researchers from Polytechnic Institute of New York University and Instituto Superiore di Sanitá, Italy, was 15 centimeters long and spray-painted with the characteristic blue stripes of the zebra fish. The tail of the robot was mechanically controlled by the researchers to mimic the action of the zebra fish itself.

When placed in a 65 liter fish tank, the movements of the robot’s tail attracted both individual and shoals of zebra fish; the researchers believe that such capability was influenced by its bio-inspired features which were optimized to increase attraction. For more information, visit iop.org.