Snookie the under water robot features an artificial lateral line sensory organ to detect its surroundings
Currently robots need to be precisely programmed for each step of a given task, but the move towards autonomous systems will see robots reacting intelligently to their surroundings and performing tasks largely independently. To do this they will need to rely on their own sensory perceptions. However, in harsh environments, laid low by fumes, dust, water, high temperatures or low visibility, new senses are called for – perhaps even sensory organs that humans lack. Researchers have fitted an underwater robot with an artificial sensory organ inspired by the so-called lateral line system found in fish and some amphibians that lets it orient itself in murky waters.