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Robot fish could one day be enlisted for undercover science missions.
A soft-bodied robot that looks and swims like a fish was unveiled by researchers at MIT this week; they say something like it might be able to infiltrate schools of real fish and gather data about their behavior.
The autonomous robot swishes side-to-side underwater as different parts of its body are inflated and deflated with a fluid stored as a gas onboard, the creators explained in a video. The result is a flexible robofish can execute escape maneuvers just as quickly as a real fish can — turning its body in a mere 100 milliseconds.
For years roboticists have been working on durable, flexible bots that mimic other squishy creatures, such as earthwormlike robots that could survive blows from a hammer and octopus-inspired bots that could squeeze into small places for exploration or search-and-rescue operations.
The newly revealed robot belongs to a long line of fish-inspired creations, including RoboTuna, an underwater automaton with 2,843 parts controlled by six motors that came out of MIT in 1994.