This soft robot fish swims like the real deal

Gigaom

If an autonomous fish robot recently developed at MIT finds itself about to run into an obstacle, it convulses its body to switch directions at the last second, just like a real fish.

Its secret? It is made of soft silicone rubber and powered by fluid that shoots through vein-like channels in its body, giving it the ability to move faster and more freely than more traditional “hard” robots.

“The fact that the body deforms continuously gives these machines an infinite range of configurations, and this is not achievable with machines that are hinged,” MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory director Daniela Rus said in a release Thursday. “A rigid-body robot could not do continuous bending.”

 Doctoral candidate Andrew Marchese holds a soft robotic fish developed by the Distributed Robotics Laboratory. Photo courtesy of M. Scott Brauer.
Doctoral candidate Andrew Marchese holds a soft robotic fish developed by the Distributed Robotics Laboratory. Photo courtesy of M. Scott Brauer.

Soft robots are also much less dangerous to people and their surroundings…

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