Robotic Fish

Oil travels thousands of miles to reach it’s final destination whether that is our vehicles, our products or our food. It is drilled in various places around the world and due to the vast amount of area that oil is moved around many different ecosystems are affected.

Researchers at Northwestern have created a robot that have fish like qualities. This robot moves like a fish which makes it very mobile but it is also is very stable. This is a new breakthrough in robotic technology as there usually is a tradeoff between mobility or stability.

The research hope that with this new technology it will be easier to monitor oil spills and fix oil rigs. One of the creators mentions how during the BP oil spill some of the robots used were not as mobile and so the process of capping the oil well heads took a lot longer and really delayed the process.

This robot was created through biomimicry of the “electric black ghost knifefish of the Amazon basin.”


This fish was selected because of it’s ability to sense things with the use of a self-generated electric field. It is also able to swim in any direction due to it’s long fin on it’s underside.

Including these qualities on a robot really adds mobility as the fin design lets the fish move in different directions quicklier than past designs. The addition of an electric-field generation will be helpful for the robot as the goal is that it will be working in deep sea where there is often little to no lighting.

The researchers are still working on different prototypes but they have high hopes for their invention.

Here’s a short video of the researcher explaining how his robot works:



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