Tallinn University’s Prof. Maarja Kruusmaa inspects one of the FILOSE robotic fish

 

Robotic fish learn to go with the flow

By Ben Coxworth
March 6, 2013

We’ve already seen several underwater robots that mimic the swimming abilities of fish. The European FILOSE research project, however, is also interested in copying another feature of our finned friends – their lateral line. The result could be swimming robots that use differences in water pressure to navigate and save energy.

A fish’s lateral line is comprised of a row of hair cells that run length-wise down either side of the animal’s body. These cells are capable of detecting changes in water pressure, as might be caused by water flowing around underwater objects. It’s by using sensory input from their lateral line that fish are able to quickly find their way around in murky water, without crashing into rocks or other obstacles.

The FILOSE researchers have created a series of lab-based robotic fishes based on the rainbow trout, that have their own man-made lateral lines. These lines incorporate tiny cantilevered piezoelectric sensors that bend in response to flow – the stronger the current, the more they bend, and the greater the electrical signal that they produce.

Read more: Robotic fish learn to go with the flow — gizmag.

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