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Soft Robotic Fish Moves Like the Real Thing!

Soft Robotic Fish Can Swim
Soft Robotic Fish Can Swim
Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office

Everything man can imagine is quickly becoming a reality. Advances in technology have introduced a concept called soft robotics; soft robots don’t just have soft exteriors but are also powered by fluid flowing through flexible channels. We were first introduced to the concept in the movie “Terminator” where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a futuristic robot with human features. Today scientists have developed a soft robotic fish that moves just like the real thing.
Daniela Rus, a professor of computer science and engineering, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Andrew Marchese, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science are the researchers who designed and built the fish. The science of soft robots studies efficient motion in robotics. This can lead to breakthrough technology in artificial limbs which don’t have to look and feel so artificial.
MIT researchers report the “fish” is a self-contained, autonomous, soft robot capable of rapid body motion that can execute an escape maneuver, convulsing its body to change direction in just a fraction of a second, or almost as quickly as a real fish can. Can you imagine the military and scientific applications? A soft robotic fish can travel anywhere undetected. Scientific applications could allow a fish that moves and looks like a real fish to infiltrate schools of real fish to gather detailed information about their behavior in the natural habitat. A robotic fish designed to take pressure can dive to the depths of the ocean and see what we cannot and go where man cannot go.
The robotic fish moves with the aid of carbon dioxide released from a canister in the fish’s abdomen which causes the channel to inflate, bending the tail in the opposite direction. Each half of the fish tail has just two control parameters: the diameter of the nozzle that releases gas into the channel and one that controls the amount of time the nozzle is left open. This fish was designed to have lifelike performance capabilities but cannot swim continuously. Its developers are working on a newer version capable of swimming continuously using pumped water to inflate the channels instead of carbon dioxide.