Madeline the robot turtle is helping university researchers learn how to build better autonomous underwater vehicles. Madeline's flippers are made of polyurethane, but have about the same stiffness as those of a real turtle; electric motors guided by an onboard computer provide power.
The basic approach is summed up by John Long, one of Madeleine's makers from Vassar College, in New York. "The thinking is that if nature did it, it must be good," he explains.
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