Zebrafish Robot

BOB HIRSHON (host): Friendly robot leaders.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Animals have inspired the design of many robots, but they’re usually created to serve human purposes. Mechanical engineer Mauricio Porfiri, of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, has a different goal in mind. He’s developing a robot zebrafish that would attract and guide other fish, for their own protection.

MAURICIO PORFIRI (Polytechnic Institute, New York University): So for example, one can think of using robots that can steer away a group of fish from one place to the other – if for example, there is an ecological disaster…

HIRSHON: Or, it could lead the fish away from day-to-day hazards like turbine blades.  Porfiri’s team recently showed that live fish gravitate more toward the robotic fish than to an empty tank. Porfiri says since zebrafish tend to group together and behave as a unit, it’s plausible that a few strategically placed robots could lead schools of them around. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.