It’s a story of unlikely friendship. A small research robot is currently living with an Emperor penguin colony in Antarctica, providing vital information for researchers in Cape Cod, CBS Boston reports.
ECHO, the robot, belongs to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and rolls around the tundra collecting data used to study marine ecosystems.
The small robot takes readings and collects data like a normal researcher, but his existence allows researchers to collect real-time information year round and minimize the impact their presence could have on the animals’ lives.
Researchers say the penguins seem to be getting along swimmingly with the robot.
“The really cool thing is if I as a human would try to get as close as ECHO, they would be running away,” the Marine Animal Remote Sensing Lab’s Daniel Zitterbart told Popular Science. “We don’t want to scare the animals. Our general aim is to do more science with less impact. And humans have much bigger impact on the animals than the robot actually has.”