Wanda the robot fish

Scientists at Dublin City University have developed a robotic fish named "Wanda" (Wireless Aquatic Navigator for Detection and Analysis). The hand-sized device looks can swim like a fish, complete with swishing tail, but is kitted out with a battery power supply with a built-in camera, a wireless transmitter and customised sensor apparatus as needed.

When Wanda was powered up, the tail starts to swish to and fro. It’s actually a three- layered polypyrrole polymer actuator that bends as charge runs through one side and then the other, and the resulting swishing motion can propel "Wanda" through the water, explains Fay, a research assistant within the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Clarity initiative.

Collaborators at the University of Wollongong in Australia have been working on the tail end, making the actuator more powerful, while Fay has been developing technology in Dublin that allows "Wanda" to monitor and sense conditions in the aquatic environment, such as a change in acidity.

For example in an aquarium you want to keep the fish happy, but the conditions turn alkaline because of ammonia building up unless its cleared, so you’d like to keep an eye on that, he says. To do that you could have these fish following the real fish and keeping an eye on them with the camera and then periodically going on patrol.

More reading at Irish Times, 10 Sept 2009



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