The robot that has been created by engineers and marine biologists at the University of California in the U.S. does make use of artificial muscles that have been filled with water to propel it.
The foot-long robot, which is indeed connected to an electronics board that does remain on the surface, is also virtually very transparent.
The bot is indeed an important step towards a future when soft robots can rather swim in the ocean alongside fish and also invertebrates without disturbing or harming them. Rather interesting.
Off late most underwater vehicles that have been designed to observe marine life are indeed rigid and submarine-like and are powered by electric motors with noisy propellers.
Instead of propellers, the robot makes use of soft artificial muscles to move like an eel underwater without making any particular sound.
The focus is upon an innovative, eel-like robot developed by engineers as well as marine biologists that can swim silently in salt water without an electric motor. Instead, the robot does make use of artificial muscles which is filled with water to propel itself. The foot-long robot is connected to an electronics board that remains on the surface and is virtually transparent.
The view held is that the bot is an important step toward a future when these soft robots can swim in the ocean alongside fish and invertebrates without much disturbing or harming them. As of now, most underwater vehicles are indeed designed to observe marine life which are rigid and submarine-like and are also powered by electric motors with of course are noisy propellers.
Rather than propellers, the robot make use of soft artificial muscles to be able to move like an eel underwater without making any sort of sound.
One key innovation was making use of the salt water in which the robot swims in order to help generate the electrical forces that propel it. The bot is equipped with cables that actually do apply a voltage to both of the salt water surrounding it and also to pouches of water located inside of its artificial muscles. The electronics of the robot does deliver negative charges in the water just outside of the robot and also positive charges inside of the robot that do activate the muscles. The electrical charges tend to cause the muscles to bend, thus generating the robot’s undulating swimming motion. The charges are indeed located just outside the surface of the robot and also carry very little current so that they are safe for nearby marine life.
There will indeed be more efforts to create an efficient, practical as well as untethered eel robot. Previously, other research groups have indeed developed robots with similar technology. But in order to power these robots, engineers are making use of materials that do need to be held in constant tension inside semi-rigid frames. This is in fact the softest robot that is being developed for underwater exploration and can well be utilized for this purpose.