Self-Contained, Soft Robotic Fish Capable of Rapid Body Motion

MIT graduate student Andrew Marchese has built a robotic fish that can execute an escape maneuver, convulsing its body to change direction in just a fraction of a second, almost as quickly as a real fish can. MIT researchers say this is the first self-contained, autonomous soft robot capable of rapid body motion. Soft robotics are powered by fluid flowing through flexible channels. Each side of the robotic fish's tail is bored through with a long, tightly undulating channel. Carbon dioxide released from a canister in the fish's abdomen causes the channel to inflate, bending the tail in the opposite direction. Marchese used a 3D printer to build the mold in which he cast the fish's tail and head from silicone rubber and the polymer ring that protects the electronics, sensors, and actuators in the fish's guts.