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

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!