The Italian Almanac



A group of researchers from the Polytechnic Institute of New York, led by Italian engineering and aerospace professor Maurizio Porfiri, have created the first robotic fish capable of swimming through deep and shallow waters, creating a wake that imitates a real fish's movements. It may not be the best-looking fish in the sea, but all the other fish seem eager to follow it, said the researchers in an article published by the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

The "ugly" robotic fish was created to understand if fish followed their school leaders "because of their looks, or their movements," explained Porfiri. Researchers hope that the finned, mechanical leader can be used in the future to guide marine life and possibly animal groups away from dangerous and threatening situations.

Whereas previous test runs attempted to create simulations close to nature, researchers turned to technology and emphasized motion. "The movements created by the robotic fish leave a vortex that helps followers save energy, similar to what cyclists take advantage of when they ride behind vehicles," said Porfiri.