Robot fish mimics real life counterparts

October 20, 2012 - via University of Technology in Krakow

CyberFish version 5 is a heavy underwater robot imitating a fish. 

It was designed and constructed by students and staff at the University of Technology in Krakow. 

Co-creator of CyberFish Marcin Malec says it almost like the real thing - but not quite.

"It's an underwater robot with wave propulsion, imitating a real fish with its appearance and behaviour."  

Here it is on display at the international trade fair Eurotool 2012 in Krakow.

The idea arose five years ago during bionics classes at the university, as Malec explains.

"The idea arose four or five years ago during classes at  the Mechanics Department at Krakow University of Technology. One of the topics during bionics class was making copies from nature to mechanics. It was the first time we came with the idea of constructing an underwater robot which looks and moves like a fish."

The robot is 70 centimetres (27.5 inches) long and weighs 3.4 kilograms (7.4 pounds).

It is the fifth version of the prototype and Malec says it is lighter, faster and has less hydrodynamic drag. 

It's also equipped with a new computer application used to control the robot, which means it reacts faster and is more self-sufficient.

Some aspects of the robot fish are copied from real fish. 

It has air-bladders which are used for easy diving and surfacing.  

And thanks to the wave drive and air-bladders it moves and dives quietly, and doesn't stir up or muddy the waters through which it moves. 

This is a major advantage over normal robots which move with a propeller. 

Malec says the robot fish could allow detailed and more precise studies of water reservoirs.

"In the future, during reconnaissance missions when diving and surfacing, there won't be the typical situation for normal robots driven by propellers - stirring up mud. Working propellers make it difficult to observe the sea floor. But our robot can change diving levels by changing the buoyancy of the robot." 

The CyberFish will also be equipped with a camera.

Malec says he hopes a future version of the robot fish will be more intelligent.

"We're working on creating an autonomous underwater robot that will make its own decisions. Our aim is to build a robot that will swim to one point, make a introductory reconnaissance, turn the camera on, look for a requested object and go back to the base on its own, after a command given before the mission. Then we only have to watch the video to be confident whether or not we should send the divers or start searching in a different spot." 

The prototype was created with the co-operation of the Polish Navy. 

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