Just when you thought you’d heard it all, scientists have announced they have developed a robot fish which creates combustible gas and ‘farts’ it out to leap into the air.
Boffins at one one of the world’s leading universities, the Imperial College London, have developed a robot inspired by fish which they say can be used to monitor reefs or ice floes, reports the Daily Star .
Where other methods – such as devices which swim underwater – may not get enough of a good overview of an area, this flying fish robot could be ideal for scanning an area from above water.
Mirko Kovac, director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory at Imperial College London,told Digital Trends : “This robot is all about a high-powered propulsion system that allows it to transition from water to air.
“To make this transition effective, we need a very high-powered system that allows it to clear the water and enter gliding flight.
“As a locomotion principle, this aquatic jump-gliding is also used by flying fish. That’s partially where the inspiration comes from.”
A paper from the team, published in the journal Science Robotics, said that the “160-gram robot could achieve a flight distance of 26 metres using 0.2 gram of [fuel].”
The robot mixes calcium carbide pellets with the water it’s swimming in to produce combustible acetylene gas, which turns the “fish” into a miniature jet for short periods.
Kovac says that the autonomous fish robot could be useful as a monitoring tool.
He said: “[You can imagine this being used] for reef monitoring or arctic sea monitoring, for example.
“Often there are obstacles in the water, such as rocks, coral, or floating ice, that make it difficult to gain access using a traditional aquatic vehicle.
“The method we presented here would allow a variety of aquatic vehicles to temporarily transition out [swimming] to enter the aerial space. It would let them operate in more complex environments.”