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Robotic fish could become reality

07-15-2010 09:37 BJT

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The idea of a fish taking directions from a human, might sound absurd, but the animal robotics industry is developing just that.

Developers hope, that one day, humans could tell schools of fish where and where not to swim. This will help keep them away from danger areas, like say the situation in the Gulf of Mexico.

It's an aquatic version of following the leader.

Dr. Maurizio Porfiri of Polytechnic Institute from the New York University has combined his loves for mathematics and animals to invent a robot that he says will one day be able to lead schools of fish away from danger.

Porfiri says the hardest part of his research has been to find out what the qualities of a leader are - through the eyes of a fish, but he thinks, as is the case with most animals, it comes down to sex.

Maurizio Porfiri, Polytechnic Institute, New York University, said, "If you take a propellor and put it in the water it may swim as fast as the fish but the fish may not like it. If you can make something that swims like a fish, the fish may perceive it as a mate."

Porfiri's team is developing a prototype and testing it with small schools of fish in his lab. They are fine tuning the robot to mimic the actions of a leader, programming it to swim fast and erratically to gain attention. The goal - infiltrate the school and take it over.

Maurizio Porfiri, Polytechnic Institute, New York University, said, "So through mathematics we should be able to gain an understanding on how many robotic fish are needed to drive a group of fish of a certain size and also, we can coordinate these fish so we can have multiple robotic fish that interact with each other."

Porfiri says he wants to program his robot fish to work autonomously without human control. He envisions his robot fish acting like sheep dogs underwater, keeping schools of fish out of danger areas like the oil-polluted waters in the Gulf of Mexico, or protecting them from hydroelectric turbines.

Eventually Porfiri says he wants to upgrade his robot fish and fit them with processors and sensors, giving them the ability not just to lead the school, but to learn how it interacts with other creatures living underwater.

Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: CNTV.CN

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