Scientists at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries who are trying to build nimbler ships and submarines by developing oscillating fins have come up with a lifelike invention: a robot fish.
The aquatic robots, developed over four years at a cost of up to $1 million, are programmed by a computer and guided by clusters of sensors in a special tank. The 23-inch seabream weighs nearly 6 pounds, the same as a real fish of that size.
A primitive version made its debut at a 1997 show in Indonesia. Mitsubushi has since built an improved version that was first shown in Japan at the end of last year. The premise of the research is simple: fish swim much better than anything built by humans so far.
Terada and other researchers concluded in 1995 that fitting ships and submarines with oscillating fins rather than the usual thrusters would improve control, avoid dangerous rolling and enable vehicles like submersibles to hover better.
More information: MariNet.