First robot fish with autonomous 3D movement

June 28, 2013

3D prototype of robot fish (credit: National University of Singapore)

Researchers from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering have developed a robot fish that mimics the movements of a carp.

This robot — essentially an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) — is ready for applications and can be programmed to perform specific functions, such as underwater archaeology, exploring nooks and corners of wreckage or a sunken city. These are difficult for divers or traditional AUVs to access.

Other applications include military activities, pipeline leakage detection, and laying communication cable.

“Currently, robot fish capable of 2-D movements are common, meaning that these models are not able to dive into the water,” said Professor Xu Jianxin. “Our model is capable of 3-D movements, as it can dive and float, using its fins like a real fish. Compared to traditional AUVs, they are certainly more mobile, with greater maneuvrability. If used for a military purpose, fish robots would definitely be more difficult to detect by the enemy.”

The team plans to equip the robot fish with more sensors, such as GPS and a video camera. to improve autonomous 3-D movements.

It will also be featured at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, a top international conference on intelligent robots, in Tokyo on 3-7 November 2013.