Biomimetic and bio-inspired robotics in electric fish research

TitleBiomimetic and bio-inspired robotics in electric fish research
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsNeveln, I. D., Y. Bai, J. B. Snyder, J. R. Solberg, O. M. Curet, K. M. Lynch, and M. A. MacIver
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Date Published06/2013

Weakly electric knifefish have intrigued both biologists and engineers for decades with their unique electrosensory system and
agile swimming mechanics. Study of these fish has resulted in models that illuminate the principles behind their electrosensory
system and unique swimming abilities. These models have uncovered the mechanisms by which knifefish generate thrust for
swimming forward and backward, hovering, and heaving dorsally using a ventral elongated median fin. Engineered active
electrosensory models inspired by electric fish allow for close-range sensing in turbid waters where other sensing modalities fail.
Artificial electrosense is capable of aiding navigation, detection and discrimination of objects, and mapping the environment, all
tasks for which the fish use electrosense extensively. While robotic ribbon fin and artificial electrosense research has been
pursued separately to reduce complications that arise when they are combined, electric fish have succeeded in their ecological
niche through close coupling of their sensing and mechanical systems. Future integration of electrosense and ribbon fin
technology into a knifefish robot should likewise result in a vehicle capable of navigating complex 3D geometries unreachable
with current underwater vehicles, as well as provide insights into how to design mobile robots that integrate high bandwidth
sensing with highly responsive multidirectional movement.

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