Scientists develop robotic platform to study krill swimming

Imagine a network of interconnected, independent robots gracefully maneuvering through the pitch-black depths of the ocean, collaborating in a synchronized dance to carry out vital scientific surveys or conduct search-and-rescue operations.

A recent publication in Scientific Reports highlights a groundbreaking study led by a team of researchers from Brown University. The study introduces the initial steps in the development of these underwater navigation robots. The researchers present the design of a compact robotic platform named Pleobot, which serves as a valuable tool for unraveling the intricacies of krill-like swimming and lays the foundation for constructing agile and nimble underwater robots.

At present, Pleobot consists of three articulated sections that imitate the metachronal swimming method observed in krill. The team drew inspiration from these fascinating aquatic creatures, renowned for their exceptional swimming abilities, including accelerating, decelerating, and executing precise turns. The study showcases Pleobot’s capacity to mimic the leg movements of swimming krill and offers fresh insights into the fluid-structure interactions necessary for sustaining steady forward motion in these organisms.

The study emphasizes that Pleobot possesses the potential to enable the scientific community to harness 100 million years of evolution and apply it to the engineering of more advanced robots for oceanic exploration.

“Conducting experiments involving live organisms is rife with challenges and unpredictable outcomes,” stated Sara Oliveira Santos, a Ph.D. candidate at Brown’s School of Engineering and the lead author of the study. “Pleobot grants us an unprecedented level of precision and control to investigate all aspects of krill-like swimming that contribute to their remarkable maneuverability underwater. Our objective was to create a comprehensive tool for understanding krill-like swimming, which necessitated incorporating every detail that accounts for krill’s athletic prowess.”

Source: Brown University

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