The Stunning Debut of HEU Biomimetic Robot Fish at the National Expo

August 5, 2011 - via Harbin Engineering University

6 micro-bionic robot fish invented by the team led by Prof. Guo Shuxiang, Yangtze Fund Scholar, “swam” into the “11th Five-Year" National Key S&T Expo at the National Conventional Center in Beijing during the National people's Congress (NPC) & Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) within 8th and 14th March. The “fish” were the outcomes of one project undertaken by Harbin Engineering University (HEU) under the “863” Program list (the “11th Five-year” session) supported by the Ministry of Science & Technology. The fish gave a stunning debut and won applauds and bravos from the officers of the Ministry of Science, China.

On the Expo, those 6 bionic robotic fish of merely a few centimeters long swam freely in the crystal clear aquarium,, whose vivid and flexible postures were almost the same as those of real fish. If being observed from a distance, the fish can be reckoned as live creatures. With no engine driven, no motor, nor propeller noise, the little fish demonstrated the charm of science and technology. During the Expo, HEU booth attracted continuous flow of visitors., Being deeply impressed by this high-tech achievement, both common citizens and academics gathered around to ask the secret out of curiosity. As one of the 6 outstanding exhibitors selected among 18 institutions in the advanced manufacturing zone, HEU “fish” was honored to be presented and received the inspect by CPPCC members in the special Expo session. The CPPCC members watched the performance of HEU “fish” with full zest and rewarded with high comments.

These micro-bionicrobot fish are also known as cable-free autonomous swimming robot fish. In fact, they have a lot of  “siblings”. The R&D group also applied the “artificial muscles” engine to the development of a variety of “sibling”micro-bionicrobots,includingbioniceel, pale chub, 8-foot crabs with,bionicjelly fish,closed-loopcontrol fish, multi-operationrobot ,spherical adaptive robot and so on. The family members are all able to turn, avoid obstacle, crawl, fetch, float, and dive like real aquatic life. Besides, they can be control remotely and can cruise independently.

The performance of the biomimetic crab was even more exciting. The “crab” commanded its eight legs orderly and walked sideways like a real crab at the bottom ofthe tan. Then following the command signals, it fetched a small moving object with its eight legs, floated to the surface,and released in the specific location. Thus the “crab” completed underwater grabbing and release operations successfully.

These micro biomimetic underwater robots can perform water pollution detection, small pipeline dredging, underwaterdata collection, work-assisted surgery, etc. They know how to collaborate with others and can undertake assignment in a robot team, which implied their popularity in the industry and market.

The competence of these “premium fish” lies in the high-tech and stable performance. Despite the small size, the little “fish” beares great wisdom. The gospel  for the free swim was the “artificial muscles”, i.e. a bio-engine in the fish tail. The invention was breakthrough achieved by the R&D team led by Guo Shuxiangin 2008. The team grasped the core technology for watermicro-robot-themanufacture technique of ion polymer ICPF, and invented bio-engine which can be bent flexibly as muscle and boasted of sensor function. The achievement set a solid foundation for the R&D of underwater bionicrobots.

The team members said, “It is a pity we could not carry a 2-meter-long submarine machine capable of removing and the launching these little “fish” this time. If this equipment were presented, it would definitely have won all the bravos of the Expo.” Based on the former underwater robot movement principles,Guo’steam proposed  “picture machine” concept, i.e. “two bodies” concept, and developed a motor propeller-driven submarine-based machine tool with high-speed movement. Thus the low speed of biomimetic microrobot was improved, and the micro-bio-robot (amachine) can be delivered to the specified location for launch and recovery.  

“Visitors enjoyed watching our demonstration ‘cause it was interesting and so exciting.” Dr. Zhu Ling noted, “So, our booth was the most popular one.” Delicate preparation and substantial efforts from the team members contributed to the brilliance.

“The body, evolved during the long evolution process of the creatures, is the essence of science by rehearsing an optimal movement mode,” Prof. Guo Shuxiang, the project leader, told the reporter, “Just as the aircraft was designed and invented simulating the principles of the bird flight." Prof. Guo’s team combined the researches in bionics and underwater micro-robots, and designed successfully various biomimetic underwater micro-machines with booming scenario. Now, let’s follow the correspondent to the full mystery of this biomimetic ”aquarium” world, and witness the glorious moment of HEU team at the major national Expo.

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