Tuesday, 22 Sep, 2009 Technology

Latest Invention: Swimming Robot to Analyze Biodiversity in Shallow Water


Nature (and namely the Amazonian knifefish) served as inspiration for scientists at the University of Bath, who are working on their latest invention - a new swimming robot that might revolutionize submersible technology. Researchers from Ocean Technologies Lab in the University's Department of Mechanical Engineering dubbed their project Gymnobot.

Their latest invention is powered by a fin that operates the length of the underside of the robot's body that undulates in order to produce a wave in the water, thus pushing the Gymnobot forward. Such design is considered to be more energy-saving compared to earlier propeller models, making it possible for the robot to swim in shallow water.

Researchers could use their latest invention to film, takes pictures and analyze the rich marine life that evolves near the seashore.

According to Keri Collins, a postgraduate student, who created the Gymnobot, the goal of using the robot is to observe the evolution of vortices around the fin. She mentioned that some fish make vortices when flipping their tails one way, but after that their tales flick back the other way, thus destroying the vortices. Feel free to check the links at the bottom of the story and read more on latest inventions.

"By destroying the vortex they are effectively re-using the energy in that swirling bit of water. The less energy left in the wake when the fish has passed, the less energy is wasted," said Collins. It is worth mentioning that the Ocean Technologies Lab was given a grant to collaborate with other 6 institutions from Europe in order to develop a robot similar to Gymnobot that could respond to water flow and swim against water currents, reports the official website of the University of Bath. Such machines could be used to study not only the biodiversity in the shallow water, but also identifying pollution or examining structures such as oil rings.

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