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Science's latest invention: robot fish

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Holding Image Photo Credit: amNY

There is something fishy about this invention.

Researchers at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University have unveiled a six-inch robotic fish that mimics the movement of the alpha fish or leader in a school of fish.

Maurizio Porfiri, a mechanical engineering professor at NYU-Poly, teamed up with Stefano Marras of the Institute for the Marine and Coastal Environment-National Research Council in Italy for the study and tested the fish in a school of golden shiner fish.

The goal of the project was to further understanding of how animals function in a collective group.

"We wanted to understand the conditions under which we could make animals follow robots," Porfiri said.

Though the actual fish fell in line with the robot, a video of the project shows the fishy fellows made a point not to get too close. However, they did take advantage of the wake the robot created.

In nature, the alpha fish beats its tail faster than the other fish, creating a wake in which the followers can swim at the same pace, but with less effort on their part, according to ScienceDaily.

The little guy may lack the memorable singing voice of Big Mouth Billy Bass, but researchers hope that their mechanical friend could create a much greater impact than a hole in the wall.

Porfiri said they are hoping the robot fish will become like a "sheepdog," leading real fish away from polluted areas, power plants or other dangers.

If researchers can wire this robo-fish to mimic the nature of a real fish, let's hope it doesn't end up as lunch for the Pentagon's robo-cat.

Follow Amanda Dallas on Twitter: @DallasSayWhat 


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