Robot Swims Like a Squid

The new robot squid has head fins like this real squid. Image submitted to Amazing Images by jesspa2ut

A squid-type underwater robot developed by Osaka University in Japan was demonstrated in a Kobe swimming pool on Oct. 21 as part of an underwater robot festival. It has been designed with a long, flat body to easily enter narrow spaces. This kind of robot is called "bio-mimetic" because it imitates characteristics of living things.

Although they refer to this as a "squid-type" robot; it does not propel itself by shooting jets of water backward. Long rubber fins on either side of the robot, like those on the sides of the heads of some squids (see photo), provide propulsion. It uses actuators embedded in the rubber fins, curling them rhythmically for forward thrust (see the robot squid video).

According to the Osaka University's Department of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering, underwater robots will have a greater scope of applicability and potential research than bipedal robots:

In addition to the precise control technologies needed to move robots in water and the systems to maintain their attitude in extremely unstable currents, brand new propulsion systems are being imagined for robots being designed to monitor ocean environments, search out underwater resources as well as perform other underwater missions.

Here's a quick peek at some other robots that imitate animals to get around:

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from - where science meets fiction.)

Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science.