Scientists come up with new way to spy on penguins with cute chick rover. A new robotic penguin spy.
Image © Le Maho et al/Nature Methods
International scientists and filmmakers, led by Yvon Le Maho of the University of Strasbourg in France, created a remote control rover to snuggle up to shy penguins in Adelie Land, Antarctica.
In order to study them, scientists have to interact directly with them by ‘tagging them with subcutaneous passive integrated transponders (PIT).’ Then use radio frequency identification (RFID) to collect the valuable data.
When approached by a remote-operated vehicle (rover) which can be equipped to make radio-frequency identifications, wild penguins had significantly lower and shorter stress responses (determined by heart rate and behavior) than when approached by humans. Upon immobilization, the rover—unlike humans—did not disorganize colony structure, and stress rapidly ceased.
Le Maho said:
“The penguins didn’t scamper away and even sang to it with a very special song like a trumpet.
They were very disappointed when there was no answer. Next time we will have a rover playing songs.”
The right rover, after five attempts, was covered in gray fur and has a black-and-white face and black beak.