At Northwestern Polytechnical University, Chinese researchers have created a biomimetic robot that resembles a devilfish, or manta ray, and can slide underwater or flap its wings.
Manta rays are one of nature’s most efficient swimmers and they have a special propulsion mechanism with properties like high stability and mobility, high-propulsion efficiency, large load capacity, and low noise.
The team developed the bionic soft robot prototype that is modeled on the motion and shape of a manta ray. Featuring an 80 cm-wingspan, the prototype is driven by a lithium battery and is capable of swimming at a speed of around 1.85 km per hour.
Our team is also developing prototypes that can dive up to 1,000 meters and work continuously for a month.
Pan Guang, Project Leader and Dean, School of Marine Science and Technology, Northwestern Polytechnical University
After the robot is completed, it can be used for observing the ocean environment, carrying out search operations, and performing submarine scientific studies, Guang stated.
The bionic soft robot will soon be tested in lake conditions and then in the open ocean in the subsequent year. The researchers are also planning to load more numbers of sensors for sound and visual detection on the prototype robot for additional studies.