Welcome to the robotic age. Long-term federal investments in fundamental science and engineering research, and the researchers who pursue them, have led to novel machines that safely partner with people in nearly every environment. Soon, helping hands are as likely to be made of metal and plastic as flesh and bone. While roboticists figure out the final frontiers of programming, materials development and systems challenges, why not throw some robot motivational posters up on the walls? Find out more in this Special Report.
Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology
Howie Choset at Carnegie Mellon University and colleagues are designing snake robots that can navigate a variety of terrains, surmount obstacles in their way and function in range of conditions. A snake robot has numerous degrees of freedom, which have to be coordinated before the robot can move. Find out more in this Discovery.
Credit: Howie Choset, Carnegie Mellon University
The relationship between engineering and nature has been largely one-directional, with humans reaping the majority of the benefits of discovery. But, what if it was possible to close the loop, and combine human ingenuity and nature's wisdom to protect a species or ecosystem? Maurizio Porfiri, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, is one step closer to that goal through his research into the behavior of schooling fish. Porfiri's findings led him to create a series of biologically inspired robots that may help preserve and protect marine life. Find out more in this Discovery.
Credit: Polytechnic Institute of New York University
The Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) was established as a result of strategic planning and reorganization of NSF's Engineering Directorate (ENG). EFRI serves a critical role in helping ENG focus on important emerging areas in a timely manner. Each year, EFRI will recommend, prioritize and fund interdisciplinary initiatives at the emerging frontier of engineering research and education.
A high-tech robotic fish hatched at Michigan State University has a new look, a new skill and a new name. MSU scientists have made a number of improvements on the fish, including the ability to glide long distances, which is the most important change to date. The fish now has the ability to glide through the water practically indefinitely, using little-to-no energy, while gathering valuable data that can aid in the cleaning of lakes and rivers.
April 14, 2014
Engineers are 'schooling' themselves on fish maneuvers
Their research is revealing more about what it takes to truly swim like a fish
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), aerospace engineer Michael Philen and his team at Virginia Tech are investigating the biomechanics of fish locomotion, in hopes of contributing to the next generation of robotic fish and underwater submersibles.
The researchers are studying how fish use their muscles to swim efficiently and execute underwater maneuvers, such as darting around in perfectly synchronized schools.
Philen and his team also are developing new smart materials, such as a bioengineered hair that is modeled after the hair cell sensors on the side of fish that allow it to detect minute changes in water flow.
The research in this episode was funded by NSF award #0938043, EFRI-BSBA: Multifunctional materials exhibiting distributed actuation, sensing, and control: Uncovering the hierarchical control of fish for developing smarter materials.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.