Follow the leader: The robotic fish that could direct marine life away from danger

They might look like a child's toys, but these robotic fish could one day save the lives of thousands of undersea creatures.

The prototypes fool shoals of fish into thinking they are their ‘leader’ and have in tests changed the direction the group swims in.

Their success is not down to their comical appearance - especially the eyebrows - but rather the way in which they mimic the movement of their real-life cousins.

Researchers say that the robots could in the future be deployed in water which has been affected by a toxic spill to lead marine life away from danger.
They could also help them to steer clear of man-made obstacles like undersea turbines.

The robotic fish were developed by Dr Maurizio Porfiri, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.


So far Dr Porfiri has only been able to design creatures which swim on the surface of the water, but he hopes to soon make models which can dive and resurface.

His research was paid for by the prestigious U.S. National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award.

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