And we don’t mean a microcontroller system running Linux. Professor Yiannis Papadopoulos, a computer scientist at the University of Hull claims we can learn from the real animal when it comes to developing smart cars. Specifically, Papadopoulos and a number of fellow researchers have been studying a penguin-inspired testing system to make sure microcontroller code in smart vehicles does not crash.

Tools based on the way the birds co-operatively hunt for fish are being developed to test different ways of organizing in-car software. The tools look for safe ways to organize code in the same way that penguins seek food sources in the open ocean. Experts said such testing systems would be vital as cars get more connected.

Papadopoulos said “Penguins forage in groups and have been observed to synchronize their dives to catch fish. They also have the ability to communicate using vocalizations and possibly convey information about food resources." If you think that’s non-technical talk unsuitable for Elektor’s e-zine, consider that algorithms based on the way ants communicate have helped telecoms firms organize networks.

The full report published by the IEEE among others, is called “Can aquatic flightless birds allocate Automotive Safety requirements”.