Sunday, July 26, 2009

Robotic Fish to Mimic Swimming

Researchers at the University of Bath are to build a robot to help understand how fish swim against the flow.

A consortium of five institutions have been awarded £1.5m to create the swimming robot trout.

The Ocean Technologies Lab at Bath will try to mimic the sense organ found in fish which allows them to detect the flow of water and react to it.

It is hoped the robot can be used in future for pollution control and monitoring the world's ecosystems.

It could also be used to study marine life near the seashore.

Complex controls

Dr William Megill, Lecturer in Biomimetics at the University of Bath said: "Currently, most aquatic robots can't manoeuvre very well in the shallow water near the shore because they just get smashed against the rocks by the force of the waves.

"However, even in a tsunami, fish manage to sense and swim against the current so that they stay in the water, rather than ending up on the beach.

"So this project is interesting on two levels - firstly we want to understand more about how the fish manages to react to changes in current, and secondly we want to create a robot that mimics this artificially."

The fish's complex nervous system will be emulated by computer software, developed by the University of Verona, which will allow the robot to interpret changes in flow outside the robot so it can adjust its swimming behaviour to compensate accordingly.

The FILOSE (Robotic FIsh LOcomotion and SEnsing) project is financed by the European Union.

More details at BBC...

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