A new species of robot fish
has been spotted in the Kalamazoo River in the state of Michigan, where more than a million gallons of oil spilled in July 2010. Developed primarily by Xiaobo Tan, an associate professor at Michigan State University (MSU), the robot's sensors detected crude oil at various sites along the river.
A five foot long (1.5 meter) robo-fish prototype that monitors oxygen levels and salinity is currently being tested in waters north of Spain as part of the EU-funded Shoal Consortium project. If the project proves successful, teams of autonomous robot fish could be patrolling ports, harbors, and estuaries for telltale signs of pollutants in the next few years.
Scientists involved in robotics research are increasingly looking toward biological systems for solutions to specific challenges, and when one considers that nature has been solving problems for rather a lot longer than we humans have, this makes sense. Such is the reasoning behind BIOSwimmer: an underwater surveillance robot created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S and T) that takes its design cues from the tuna fish.
Sometime in the future, perhaps sometime soon, the robotic jellyfish
cruising the world’s oceans may have to make way for one other companion – the robotic ray. A team led by University of Virginia engineering professor Hilary Bart-Smith has created such a “creature,” in hopes that its autonomously-operated descendants may someday help us humans explore and study the sea, or possibly perform surveillance for the military.
Scientists seem to like the idea of robotic fish, and why not? They have all sorts of potential applications including exploration
, or just for quiet contemplation
. A team from the University of Leeds, however, have created a robotic fish that can do something no previous effort has laid claim to – fool other fish into thinking it’s one of them.
Although fish numbers are in decline in oceans all around the globe, the same can’t be said for their robotic brethren. Like the “Robotuna
” from MIT and the robots
developed by a team at the University of Essex, the latest robotic fish from Michigan State University also take inspiration from nature. The aim is to give researchers more precise data on aquatic conditions and provide a deeper understanding of critical water supplies and habitats... and hopefully help improve the outlook for fish of the biological variety.
What is it with scientists and robotic animals? Did they not have pets as children? This year alone, we’ve seen robot ferrets, penguins, dogs, locusts, moles and bats. And now, scientists at MIT have come up with a robotic fish. Although we’ve seen mechanical fish before, this one is different in a very significant way – the robofish truly mimics the natural swimming action of real fish, flexing mechanical muscles to propel itself through the water.