Robofish - an underwater robot team
rpshen | June 6, 2008 at 01:36 pmby
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The Robofish, which are roughly the size of a 10-pound salmon, look a bit like fish because they use fins rather than propellers. The fins make them potentially more maneuverable and are thought to create lower drag than propeller-driven vehicles.
But while other research groups are building fishlike robots, what's novel with this system is that the robotic fish can communicate wirelessly underwater. Again, Morgansen looked to natural systems for inspiration. The team trained some live fish to respond to a stimulus by swimming to the feeding area. The scientists discovered that even when less than a third of the fish were trained, the whole school swam to the feeding area on cue.
Beyond finding the optimal way to coordinate movement of the robots, the researchers faced major challenges in having robots transmit information through dense water. Messages were sent between the robots using low-frequency sonar pulses, or pressure waves. The new results showed that only about half the information was received successfully, yet because of the way the Robofish were programmed they were still able to accomplish their tasks.
Now researchers are using the fish's coordination ability to do a task more similar to what they would face in the ocean. The Robofish pack's first assignment, beginning this summer, will be to trail a remote-controlled toy shark.
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