A group of European scientists working together with a UK wildlife filmmaker have developed a remote-controlled robot rover disguised as a penguin in order to intimately study colonies of shy Emperor penguins in Adélie Land, Antarctica.

In a paper entitled "Rovers minimize human disturbance in research on wild animals", published in the journal Nature Methods, the researchers, led by Yvon Le Maho of the University of Strasbourg in France, describe how they were unable to study the colonies of penguins up close as the animals typically become very frightened.

Researchers are using the robot rovers disguised as baby penguins to scan microchipped Emperor penguins so that they can check the animals' heart rates. The robots are also being used to covertly study penguin social behaviours without scaring the animals.