Nav: Home

Robo-turtles in fish farms reduce fish stress

April 02, 2020

A sea cage can hold up to 200000 farmed salmon. If the cage sustains damage, such as a hole in the nets, the fish could swim out through the opening and make their escape in short order.

Clearly, the aquaculture industry wants to avoid this scenario. Not only do escapes lead to large losses for the industry, but no one wants farm-raised salmon to mix and interbreed with wild populations.

Keeping an eye on what is going on inside the cages is critical for being able to respond and repair any damage promptly.

Monitoring life in the cages is important for other reasons as well, such as ensuring good fish welfare: What is the health condition of the fish? How serious is the salmon lice problem? Do the cages need to be cleaned?

Human divers and underwater vehicles controlled by operators on land are commonly used to check the conditions in sea cages. Both types of intruders can disrupt and stress the fish.

These methods also limit the frequency of inspections.

Robotics and biology researchers have been trying to find out which monitoring methods disturb fish least. The tests that have a robotic turtle swimming around the cage to film the equipment and fish have proven to do the inspection job better and more gently.

The experiments show that the fish are only negligibly scared or stressed by the robotic turtle. They swim calmly and fairly close to the turtle, whereas they keep away from the intruders in experiments with divers and thruster-driven underwater robots.

"The overall purpose of the experiments wasn't just to test the turtle robot, but also to investigate what characteristics robots being used in the aquaculture industry should have," says Maarja Kruusmaa. She is a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology's (NTNU) Department of Engineering Cybernetics and at Tallinn University of Technology.

"We've found that the most crucial characteristics of the surveillance robot are its size and speed, whereas colour and motor noise hardly matter at all," she said.

The turtle robot's small size and slow movements are the characteristics that make it less disturbing to the fish. The fact that it resembles an organism that lives in the ocean is less important.

"The conclusion turned out to be the opposite of our expectations. The fact that the robot looks like a marine animal doesn't seem to play any role at all. And that's actually good news - it means we don't have to build the robots to be fish- or turtle-like. That will make it cheaper to develop and use robots in this new field of application to monitor marine organisms," Kruusmaa says.

The research indicates which factors are important when developing robots for the fish farming industry or for monitoring fish in their natural setting.

Kruusmaa and Jo Arve Alfredsen, an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Cybernetics at NTNU, published an article about their findings in Royal Society Open Science about their findings. Kruusmaa is the first author.

Kruusmaa and Alfredsen are both employed by NTNU AMOS - the Centre for Autonomous Marine Operations and Systems. AMOS is developing new types of underwater vehicles and new offshore monitoring methods as their focus areas.

Robots like the robotic turtle can provide fish breeders with online updates and monitoring of life in the sea cage. The turtle can also be connected to various measuring instruments and sensors.

Using robotic technology instead of divers for surveillance allows monitoring to continue without interruption. This continuity can contribute to quicker responses, greater predictability, better fish welfare and lower mortality.

The researchers carried out the practical experiments in SINTEF Ocean's full-scale aquaculture laboratory ACE, operated by SalMar as part of the EU project AQUAEXCEL2020.

SINTEF, NTNU and Tallinn University of Technology are collaborating on this project.

The turtle robot, named U-CAT, was developed at Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia and was originally designed for underwater archaeology applications. The idea was to use it to investigate shipwrecks on the sea floor, so it was designed as a small and very manoeuvrable robot.

Alfredsen discovered that the robot could be used in aquaculture because it had precisely these properties.

The experiments in the sea cages at SalMar have shown that this robotic technology can also benefit the aquaculture industry.
-end-
Reference: M. Kruusmaa, R. Gkliva, J. A. Tuhtan, A. Tuvikene and J. A. Alfredsen. Salmon behavioural response to robots in an aquaculture sea cage. R. Soc. open sci. 7191220. 11 March 2020 https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.191220

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Related Robots Articles:

How many jobs do robots really replace?
MIT economist Daron Acemoglu's new research puts a number on the job costs of automation.
Robots popular with older adults
A new study by psychologists from the University of Jena (Germany) does not confirm that robot skepticism among elder people is often suspected in science.
Showing robots how to do your chores
By observing humans, robots learn to perform complex tasks, such as setting a table.
Designing better nursing care with robots
Robots are becoming an increasingly important part of human care, according to researchers based in Japan.
Darn you, R2! When can we blame robots?
A recent study finds that people are likely to blame robots for workplace accidents, but only if they believe the robots are autonomous.
Robots need a new philosophy to get a grip
Robots need to know the reason why they are doing a job if they are to effectively and safely work alongside people in the near future.
How can robots land like birds?
Birds can perch on a wide variety of surfaces, thick or thin, rough or slick.
Soft robots for all
Each year, soft robots gain new abilities. They can jump, squirm, and grip.
The robots that dementia caregivers want: robots for joy, robots for sorrow
A team of scientists spent six months co-designing robots with informal caregivers for people with dementia, such as family members.
Faster robots demoralize co-workers
A Cornell University-led team has found that when robots are beating humans in contests for cash prizes, people consider themselves less competent and expend slightly less effort -- and they tend to dislike the robots.
More Robots News and Robots Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Uncounted
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.