Yes, Rats Are Actually Driving in the Hudson Valley
The next time someone cuts you off on the highway, you may need to double-check that the driver is human.
Inspired by a now-famous study from the University of Richmond that saw rats operate miniature battery-powered vehicles, students at Orange-Ulster BOCES wanted to see if they could duplicate the findings. Gentle-rats, start your engines.
Rats Are Driving in New York
Let me start by saying that I can't believe I'm only just hearing about these rodent Speed Racers. The project, which was completed back in June, should have been front-page news from the moment the whiskered lead-foots hit the gas pedal.
Orange-Ulster BOCES Hits the Gad Pedal
The press release began with one of the most fantastic sentences ever written in the English language. "Orange-Ulster BOCES Career and Technical Education students in two programs recently teamed up on a project to teach rats how to drive", they announced. First, they needed a vehicle.
Multi-Discipline Project at Orange-Ulster BOCES
The project, which required teamwork between animal science, mechatronics, and robotics engineering programs, followed the example set in 2019 by the University of Richmond (UR). From Orange-Ulster BOCES:
The first step was the vehicle... a three-wheeled car that the rats could control with three levers, [trying] to improve on the design of University of Richmond’s vehicle by making it less complex
Using treats (Fruit Loops were reportedly the best motivator), the students ended up successfully getting the rats to "drive" the vehicle towards treats. While this exceptional project was an excellent example of the nearly endless possibilities for BOCES students, it unfortunately did not address the natural next step: NASCARR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Rat Racing).