Robot fish swarms could soon monitor our oceans for environmental risks

Harvard scientists have created a swarm of swimming robots that can pave the way for environmental monitoring and new methods of coral reef discovery.

Autonomous “blueboats” synchronize their movements like an actual school of fish, basing their personal decisions on the behavior of their neighbors.

Collective Bluesworm deploys a 3D vision-based coordination system and 3D locomotion to navigate, while each individual bot uses two cameras and LED lights to follow its schoolmates.

what is ours fisheye lens cameras detect LEDs from nearby bluebots, and use a novel algorithm to calculate where they are and where they are going. This allows the school to organize its movements independently.

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The inventors state that this is the first demonstration of complex 3D collective behavior with coordination inherent in underwater robots.

Study author Florian Berlinger said The system enables each robot to react to the behavior of its neighbors:

If we want to collect the robot, each blueboat will calculate the position of each of its neighbors and move towards the center. If we want to spread the robot, the bluebots do the opposite. If we want them to swim in a circle as a school, they are programmed to follow the lights in a straight clockwise direction.

Researchers tested their bluesworm on a mock search mission using red lights in a tank.

The bots used their dispersion algorithm to disperse into the tank until someone detected the light. Its LEDs then started to flash, which turns on the aggregation algorithm to the rest of the swarm to pull the entire school around the signal.

Florian Berlinger, author of the study, said that bluesworms can be highly useful Areas that are inaccessible or dangerous to humans:

In these situations, it really benefits you to have a very autonomous robot swarm that is self-sufficient. Using implicit rules and 3D visual perception, we were able to create a system that has a high degree of autonomy and flexibility where things like GPS and WiFi are not accessible.

The team now plans to use its research to develop further underwater swords that can perform environmental monitoring and inspect coral reefs or man-made underwater structures. They could also explore new insights about real fish that inspired them.

You can read his research paper in the journal Science robotics.

Published January 15, 2021 – 11:58 UTC