Scientists at the University of Lincoln have discovered the reptiles are really rather quick on the uptake in groundbreaking research using the kind of touch screen technology we are all accustomed to.
They might be on the slow side and give a rather ponderous appearance, but it seems the humble tortoise is actually something of a whizz when it comes to learning new skills.
Victoria Whittam reports:
Researchers at the University of Lincoln have trained tortoises to use touchscreens as part of a study to test the animals' intelligence.
The reptiles were given a choice of shapes on a screen and managed to work out how to win a strawberry by pressing a blue circle on screen. Watch them in action:
Researcher Dr Anna Wilkinson explains why the tortoises are willing to perform:
Tortoises have been the subject of a study led by a University of Lincoln academic.
The reptiles were monitored to test their navigational skills and managed to work out how to win a strawberry by pressing the screen.
A red triangle on the screen was followed by two blue circles. The tortoises were trained to press either the left or right circle to get a strawberry.
Dr Anna Wilkinson found that when food was given to the tortoises in two blue bowls, similar to the circles, the tortoises went for the food on the same side as the circle they were trained to press.
Scientists are working on a new robot that could eventually be working alongside security guards and care home workers.
Linda - as she's known - walks, talks and even bats her eyelids as she travels around buildings checking everything is where it should be. And her attention to detail means very little gets past her.
One of the researchers who is programming 'Linda', a new robot that could work alongside security guards, says she travels around buildings observing things and learning what happens when. Tom Krajnik is fine tuning her settings to accurately issue warnings if security may have been breached:
The scientist in charge of a project to develop the software to control robots to work alongside humans in security or care home situations says the devices learn about their surroundings. Professor Tom Duckett explains how the robots build up a picture of the buildings they are operating inside:
This is Linda. She is training to become a security guard. The robot is being developed at the University of Lincoln to patrol offices and other buildings looking for any items or people that are out of place. She can then be programmed to call a human security guard to check out the intruder.
Scientists who are developing the software that enables Linda to 'learn' about her environment, including what people do in each room and when, say she will not replace traditional security guards. Instead she is designed to work alongside the human staff to make more detailed checks on rooms.
The University of Lincoln is part of the team working to create intelligent mobile robots. The £7.2 million project involves security company G4S Technology Ltd and Austrian care home provider, the Academy of Ageing Research, where the technology developed during the scheme will be tested.