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Robot fish swims by doing the waveResearchers at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom have developed a robot fish called Gymnobot that swims by rippling a fin on its belly. They say it may lead to lighter, more efficient robotic submersibles.
^M00:00:01 >> It looks like a robot but swims like a fish. Gymnobot is one of the latest creations from the University of Bath, designed to mimic the way a fish swims. It's based on a freshwater knife fish found in the Amazon and allows researchers to design a submersible craft that, instead of using propellers which get caught in weeds, uses nature for inspiration. ^*This is what it looks like inside. A kind of x-ray view of the mechanism. The man behind the project is Dr. William Megill from the Ocean Technologies Lab in the University's Department of Mechanical Engineering. ^*Tell me about this. What does this do? >> So this is the primary propulsion mechanism, our version of a propeller. And so what we've done is taken some inspiration from a fish. This particular kind of a fish swims by holding its body rigid. And then it has a fin on its belly. And it swims, making the movement on its fin on the bottom of its body. >> But that goes inside that [inaudible] over there. >> That's right. So we have the rest of the body of the fish, if you like our robot fish; sits here. It's in two halves at the moment. And what we do is insert this mechanism through the bottom of that and then reassemble it and then it'll float. And what it does, as we'll see, it makes a wave. And it's generated by these two crank shafts. And that causes stuff to bend on the bottom here. And so we have, then, a wave that can -- made along that as it swims. >> And now the department has landed a major EU grant worth 1.8 million Euros. The University is working with five other research institutes across Europe on the project and will be the first of its kind in the world. Gymnobot is funded by BMT Defence Services and the Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council. >> You know, we were talking about tsunamis and things, right? After that tsunami, you found a lot of broken bits of cars, broken bits of everything else, right, but not a lot of fish on the beach. Why? Because a fish understands what's going on around it, knows how to deal with the water it's in. So we go from there and say, a fish knows how to do that. If we can copy that, if we can learn from that, then we can make a boat that can also work in that same environment. >> It's a real coup for the students here at Bath. >> It's really nice to be down in the lab working on a physical, tangible device. And it's so new and innovative, it's certainly more interesting than doing something a bit boring in engineering. >> It's in its early stages, but Gymnobot and other aquatic robots could help us understand marine life in a whole new way that could help bring breakthroughs in submersible technology. ^M00:02:38