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Manta ray inspires underwater robot

Monday, December 04, 2017 - 01:28

Singapore-based researchers have built an underwater robot that looks and swims like a manta ray, using only single motors and flexible fins to propel it through water in a way uncannily like its biological cousin. Jim Drury reports.

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MantaDroid is an underwater robot that looks and swims like a manta ray. Built at the National University of Singapore, it can swim for up to 10 hours. SOUNDBITE (English) NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE PROFESSOR CHEW CHEE MENG SAYING: "When the robot is being programmed to move in a certain heading, if there is a deviation due to the current flow of the water, for example, it will cause the robot to turn to one side, and you can see that there's this differential control approach, which will cause one fin to flap harder than the other fin, so as to make the robot be able to correct itself." It's the first manta ray robot to use single motors for each flexible fin. Ray-like fins and two rear rudders help it move through water like its natural counterpart. Manta rays fascinate scientists, their unique propulsion letting them cruise through turbulent seas. SOUNDBITE (English) NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE PROFESSOR CHEW CHEE MENG SAYING: "Nature tells us that flapping is the way to go for underwater locomotion. That was the reason why we actually explored the flapping motion, and the manta ray is known to be one of the very efficient swimmers in the ocean." Researchers will test it in sea waters and incorporate more modes of movement into the fin mechanism. The team says robots like MantaDroid could be used for underwater mapping, surveying ocean beds, and military reconnaissance.

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Manta ray inspires underwater robot

Monday, December 04, 2017 - 01:28