Wednesday, 02 Sep, 2009 Technology

Latest Invention: New Robofish Developed By MIT Scientists


Researchers at MIT managed to create small robotic fish by using just a few parts and a blend of polymers. Their latest invention can swim in the water like trout or tuna. The robofish could be used to spot oil spills and a number of other contaminants in the water with the help of special built-in sensors.

"The interesting aspect of this research is that we are the first group to tailor different polymers in different parts of the body with different dampening and stiffness properties," explains Kamal Youcef-Toumi, a researcher at MIT who is working on the creation of robotic fish together with Pablo Vildivia Y Alvarado. Their latest inventions are 8-inch long and built to swim like salt water tuna. In contrast to the robofish constructed in 1994, the new model can not only wiggle the tail, but also move the entire body, which leads to an increased speed.

The robofish are covered with special mix of molded polymers. Their body represents one whole piece of material, but each of the body sections has different rigidity, which makes it possible for the motion of one actuator to move across the whole body of the robofish, pushing it forward. It is worth mentioning that one actuator helps the fish to move only forward and side to side. In order to move up and down the robotic fish requires two additional actuators.

This latest invention from MIT researchers has the ability to mimic the real fish. Still, these robofish are far from reaching the speed of real fish. Their top speed does not exceed one body length per second, compared to some real fish that can reach a speed of up to 10 body lengths per second, reports Discovery News.

The power cable is attached to the robofish to provide energy for movement. It is possible to install batteries to help the robofish remotely swim in streams and bays, allowing scientists to study animals and identify pollution. You can find more interesting information on latest inventions in robotics here at; please consider checking the links at the bottom of the story.

Huosheng Hu, a professor of computer science and electronic engineering at the University of Essex says that the unibody robofish is impressive, but it won't have any special advantage in swimming, unless it features extra actuators. "We still have a long way to go to achieving the same performance as real fish," said Hu.

Powered by

Add your comment:

antispam code