Researchers Use Robot Fish to Lead Golden Shiner School

Researchers from Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) developed a bio-inspired robotic fish to mimic the tail propulsion of a swimming fish and conducted experiments at varying tail beat frequencies and flow speeds. They found that when the robot fish was placed with a school of golden shiners and simulated the familiar tail movement of a leader fish, the school assumed the behavior patterns they exhibit in the wild.

Probing the largely unexplored question of what characteristics make a leader among schooling fish, researchers have discovered that by mimicking nature, a robotic fish can transform into a leader of live ones.

Through a series of experiments, researchers from Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) aimed to increase understanding of collective animal behavior, including learning how robots might someday steer fish away from environmental disasters. Nature is a growing source of inspiration for engineers, and the researchers were intrigued to find that their biomimetic robotic fish could not only infiltrate and be accepted by the swimmers, but actually assume a leadership role.