It is not the first time we have seen a robotic fish, but in this case we have one that is capable of analyzing the current of its environment to adapt its swimming capacity.
Fish have a sensory system that allows them to detect movements, vibrations and pressure gradients in the water, and thanks to these variables they perform one or other movements to move underwater. Scientists have decided to take this into account to build robotic fish with similar functions, which can improve swimming speed.
The project has been carried out by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (Germany), Seoul National University and Harvard University. It consists of a fish-inspired soft-bodied robot that can swim smoothly as a stream of water circulates through the tank.
They have used silicone chambers on both sides of their body, and have created an air pump system that moved from side to side, causing the inflated side to expand and curve outward, while the deflated side it curved inward, thus modifying the movement.
The responsible they explain it as follows:
The robot’s sideline system consists of two liquid metal filled silicone microchannels along each side. As each of those channels stretched as that side of the body bent, the electrical resistance of the liquid metal within increased. Thus, by monitoring changes in resistance, it was possible to determine how much a certain amount of air pressure caused the robot’s body to ripple.
With this project they want to learn more about the neuromechanics of swimming animals and will help improve future underwater robots, something essential to better understand our oceans without putting human health at risk.