'Tunabot': First Robotic Fish to Swim Like Its Live Counterpart

Mechanical engineers at the University of Virginia (UVA) and biologists from Harvard University say they have created the first robotic fish proven to mimic the speed and movements of real, live yellowfin tuna. The tests of "Tunabot" take place in a large lab in the Mechanical Engineering building at UVA, in a flow tank that takes up about a quarter of the room. The finless, eyeless robotic tuna is about 10 inches long, whereas the biological equivalent can get up to seven feet long. A fishing line tether keeps the robot steady and a laser cuts across its midline. The laser measures the fluid motion shed by the robot with each movement of its tail. As the current of water in the flow tank speeds up, the Tunabot’s tail and whole body move in a rapid bending pattern, similar to how a live yellowfin tuna swims.