Engineers at the University of Kitakyushu have developed an underwater survey robot that looks good enough to eat. "Tai-robot-kun," a 7-kilogram (15.4 lb) robotic sea bream (red snapper) with a silicone body covered in realistically hand-painted scales, features a unique propulsion system that allows it to move its tail and drift silently through the water like a real fish. (Watch a video.)
The robotic fish can swim for an hour on a full battery charge, and it relies on a ballast system similar to those used in submarines to adjust its buoyancy and depth.
Tai-robot-kun's creator, professor Ikuo Yamamoto, says the robot can easily be mass-produced, outfitted with various cameras and sensors, and released into the sea to perform a wide range of oceanographic survey tasks. He adds that because the robot swims silently and looks like a real fish, it would be able to gather data without alarming the creatures it encounters.
Yamamoto and his team are also reportedly developing a robotic manta ray that uses some of the same technology.
[Source: Robot Watch]