MIT's latest robotic fish may not look like much on land, but once it gets in the water, it swims just like the real thing. And it could be an ideal tool for underwater exploration.
Kamal Youcef-Toumi and Pablo Valdivia Y Alvarado, mechanical engineers at MIT, have developed a foot-long mechanical fish that uses a single motor and fewer than ten individual components to move its compliant body. It isn't quite as fast a swimmer as a biological fish, but it's a vast improvement over the four foot long Robotuna MIT engineers debuted in 1994, which had 2,843 parts and six motors.
The robotic fish's similarity to biological fish make it an ideal underwater explorer, able to travel where other underwater vehicles cannot and tend to last longer than their submersible robotic brethren. The engineers' hope is that one day schools of robotic fish can be used to explore submerged structures, patrol lakes and harbors, and monitor large bodies of water for pollutants.