Innovative technology allows researchers to learn more about the fascinating world of Emperor Penguins.

Brooding emperor penguin with its chick approached by a rover…   © Nature Methods

Investigating wild animals has always been a challenge to researchers. Especially when dealing with shy animals like penguins. When humans approach, Emperor Penguins normally back away and their heart rate goes up. That’s not what the scientists need when they want to check heart rate, health and other penguin parameters.
Consequently, a group of international scientists have created a remote control rover disguised as a chick to snuggle up to penguins in Adelie Land, Antarctica – the same place where the 2005 documentary March of the Penguins, was filmed.

The scientists had to design about five versions of the rover until they hit upon the right one – covered in grey fur, sporting black arms, and a black-and-white painted face and black beak. The penguins didn’t scamper away and even sang to it.
The singing of the adult penguins was interpreted as them trying to find a mate for their chicks. They also seemed to be listening for a response, but the researchers didn’t program the rover to make a sound, which will have to be part of the next versions upgrade.

The results of this research have been published in an article that can be purchased via

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