Meet the robotic ghost knifefish, the cyberfish who will tame the roiling seas

"Robotic ghost knifefish" sounds like an affiliate member of the Wu-Tang Clan, but it's actually an awesome aquatic automaton built by researchers at Northwestern University. Check out this marine machine in motion.

This robot's design was based on the morphology of the Amazonian black ghost knifefish, a shimmying fish that swims vertically to navigate tree roots. This fishbot was built for a project spearheaded by Professor Malcolm MacIver of Northwestern University. From the press release:

MacIver, a robotics expert who served as a scientific consultant for "Tron: Legacy" and is science advisor for the television series "Caprica," has studied the knifefish for years. Working with Neelesh Patankar, associate professor of mechanical engineering and co-author of the paper, he has created mechanical models of the fish in hopes of better understanding how the nervous system sends messages throughout the body to make it move.

Planning for the robot — called GhostBot — began when graduate student Oscar Curet, a co-author of the paper, observed a knifefish suddenly moving vertically in a tank in MacIver's lab.

"We had only tracked it horizontally before," said MacIver, a recent recipient of the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. "We thought, ‘How could it be doing this?'"

You can read more about GhostBot at Northwestern.

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Clearly descended from 1990s technology.