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Electric Fish Inspire Underwater Robotic Vehicle Design

4 years ago615 views

GeoBeats

Geo Beats

A species of electric fish called the ghost knifefish that live in the Amazon Basin area of South America have inspired researchers to develop new technology for an underwater robotic vehicle.


A species of electric fish called the ghost knifefish that live in the Amazon Basin area of South America have inspired researchers to develop new technology for an underwater robotic vehicle.

Researchers from Northwestern University are using attributes of the electric fish to develop an unmanned submarine that would be able to maneuver in small dark places underwater, like sunken wreckage.

According to professor Malcolm MacIver from Northwestern University, who worked on the project: “They perceive in all directions. They emit a kind of radar, but it's an electric field; and the sensory receptors scattered over their entire body surface mean they can detect things coming from all directions."

The robot imitates this and is capable of sensing its surroundings using an electrical current, and moving through the environment based on these signals.

When an object enters the electrical field, the robot’s movement reacts to that presence.

For the design of another robot, researchers wanted to copy the way that ghost knifefish swim using the ripple of their single fin to move in any direction.

This propulsion technique is being developed in a different robot than the electrical sensor, but the scientists hope to combine the technologies into one device.

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