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BeagleBoard-xM project spotlight:
Fish on Wheels

By Tara Stratton

Don’t drink and drive, unless you are the driver of today’s featured Beagle project. That is, unless you are... a fish!

Goldfish can now explore the world beyond the limits of the tank with Fish on Wheels, a robotic car from Studio diip, a design shop in the Netherlands. Fish on Wheels has made a splash (pun intended!) in publications from Discovery and Popular Science to Hackaday and, receiving popular acclaim from people who wanted their own goldfish at home to be able to put the pedal to the metal.

Image credit: Studio diip

As the goldfish swims, a Logitech C910 webcam stationed overhead communicates with computer vision software running on a Sitara-processor-powered BeagleBoard-xM computer. Using the contrast of the fish with the bottom of the fish tank, the computer is able to determine which direction the fish is swimming. BeagleBoard-xM then talks to the chassis, powered by a Seed Hercules Robot platform with Arduino, to tell it to drive in the direction that the fish is swimming. Please note, seatbelts are not included, so tell your goldfish to avoid the stairs!

Image credit: Studio diip

“We thought of developing Fish on Wheels because we wanted to have something to showcase the possibilities of computer vision technology. We then came to the idea that with computer vision, even animals would be able to control devices. The best way to show this was to enable fish to drive their own aquarium wherever they want to go,” said Thomas de Wolf, business manager and co-founder of Studio diip.

While the above video shows Fish on Wheels as a smooth operation, Thomas says that it was not always so. The team faced a challenge in being able to smoothly control the motors of the robot platform so that water wouldn’t spill over the edge of the aquarium, leaving Goldie out to dry. They tested various options with the BeagleBoard-xM and were eventually able to fine-tune the device.

Thomas and his teams had several other reasons for choosing BeagleBoard-xM for Fish on Wheels. “It offered the flexibility to quickly create a working solution that gets the job done. It can run on a battery for some time so that the whole device can run autonomously,” said Thomas. The Studio diip team was also happy that the BeagleBoard-xM can run Linux and is powerful enough for computer vision tasks.

While the Fish on Wheels is a fantastic project, the Studio diip team has bigger fish to fry! They are currently working on enhancing a laser cutter with computer vision to make it possible for anyone to operate the machine by simply sketching their idea. For more information about the upcoming laser cutter, Fish on Wheels, and other intelligent imaging projects from Studio diip, check out or email the team at

Want to chat with us about this project? Tweet us at @BeagleBoardOrg!

Last updated by on Wed Mar 05 2014 20:08:14 GMT-0000 (UTC).