This little robotic fish is 40cm long & made of a soft, rubber-like material. It is powered by a dual-function fluid that is pulsed through the fish’s body by a simple circulatory mechanism, similar to blood (also known as “robot blood”).
The innovation surrounding this fish is that there is no isolation battery unit at all. The integration of the battery function in the robot body has the advantage of reducing weight and increasing maneuverability at the same time. Ultimately, the movement of the liquid helps propel the fish & retain buoyant, as opposed to a simple battery, which would only restrict movement.
The engineer responsible for the development called it the electrolytic vascular system of a high-performance robot & they claims that the system brings the creature closer to its living counterparts:
“Modern robots lack the multifunctional inter-connected systems found in-living organisms and therefore cannot reproduce their efficiency and autonomy. Energy storage systems are some of the most important limitations of robot autonomy, but their size, weight, material, & structural limitations can be redefined in the context of multifunctional applications based on biodiversity.
Toward Robotic Autonomy
The ultimate goal of the team is to have something like a self-generated source of energy, that it would work by mimicking the circulatory structure of a living being.
Scientists at Yale University are also working on synthetic blood, which they use to partially reactivate the neural network in the head of dead pigs. The blood is called BrainEX.
While brain was by no means that brought back to consciousness, it did bear living characteristics. This was done by connecting the vascular system of the brain to pump like apparatus that synthetically mirrors the natural blood circulation and at the same time using a specially developed solution to preserve brain tissue.
What Is Point Of A Robotic Fish?
The movement of this robotic fish is quite slow. The fish is designed less for a specific functionality than as an engineering step toward better autonomy for robots.
However, with such vascular innovations, more functional robotic fish like SoFi can get the extra boost they need for real exploratory utility. SoFi was developed by scientists to assist underwater research. Robo fish can swim with real fish and see underwater life from a new perspective.
A robotic fish called SoFi was developed by the MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and can be controlled by sound.
SoFi swims back and forth with the tail swing driven by the hydraulic pump. The intelligent robot can also control its buoyancy by adjusting the internal foam material.
During the Fiji Rainbow Reef test dive, SoFi was able to swim 15 meters for about 40 minutes.
As the SoFi team goes on to say: “We are excited about the possibility of using such a system to get closer to marine life than humans can get-on their own.” SoFi can swim close to real fish because it propels itself using a method that mimics the movements of real fish.
In addition, like the blood circulation robot, the SoFi’s soft body allows researchers to place it in more complex environments without worrying about major damage being sustained.
Going forward, it is easy to imagine how joint research efforts between these developments could actually produce something beyond our present day imagination.
The research published in the Journal Of Nature Communication.