Korean Scientists Use Parasitic Robots to Guide Turtles

When people think of robots, they envision metallic and large objects moving around. However, scientists are looking at a different solution in the form of a parasitic robot. They are currently trialing this parasitic guest as a way to control the turtle it is riding. It also rewards the turtle for following these commands.

Turtles, Parasitic Robots, and Snacks

When first hearing about the story of this parasitic robot, a lot of people will act confused. Up until this point, the last thing anyone expected to hear in the same sentence is “parasitic” and “robot”. As it turns out, the concept has quite a lot of merit for scientists, especially during their ongoing “turtle trials”. Controlling turtles is the first step before the robots will eventually control all of Mankind after all.

Conspiracy theories and doom scenarios aside for a minute, there is a reason why this trial is conducted right now. The turtles are trained to associate a specific color with food. Once that step is completed, the mammal will start to follow directions provided by the parasitic robot. Following the directions results in a treat and a cheap way to transport robots to remote areas.

Combining a turtle with a parasitic robot solves quite a few problems faced by the robotics sector. There is no need to add motion to the parasite itself, nor does it require larger energy reserves or recharging. That said, every parasitic robot has a processor, a frame holding different LEDs, and a tube to eject food. All robots have to successfully complete a checkpoint course while the turtle moves in a tank filled with water.

The turtles themselves are trained to associate a bright LED light with food. The parasitic robot guides the turtle’s movement by using the LEDs, and if the mammal heads, in the right direction, it receives a treat. Preliminary results show the turtles quickly saw the benefit of this symbiotic relationship and even managed to complete the “obstacle course” quicker every single time.

While this experiment may seem pointless to a lot of people, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology feels a bright future lies ahead. The technology can be used in combination with other animals in the future. This would allow scientists to deploy robots without having to worry about energy consumption and create a frictionless symbiotic relationship between parasitic robots and mammals.

Use cases for this technology range from surveillance to exploration and everything in between. It would be possible to use wildlife to explore a disaster area, for example, and use the parasitic robot to record valuable information. All things considered, this sounds like an experiment destined to go wrong, but one should not underestimate the potential implications of this research by any means.

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