It is inspired by the structure of the snail fish in the Mariana Trench (Pseudoliparis swirei). It’s a soft silicone robot. That doesn’t sound spectacular, of course. But it is able to swim 10 kilometers deep autonomously. He dived to the bottom of the sea: he is the robot fish in the Mariana Trench. “It underscores the potential to develop soft and lightweight devices for use under extreme conditions,” say the authors. The study is published in the journal nature.
The Mariana snailfish has “surprising” adaptability and mobility. The partially open skull and pectoral fins determined the mechanical design of the robot. They have a certain similarity visually.
The soft and flexible robot has a fish shape and two side fins. These are attached to two electrode muscles of the robot, which in turn are connected to a battery. When they receive electrical energy, the muscles contract. This leads to a flutter that creates the movement of the machine.
The buoyancy of the robot was tested in a pressurized water chamber in the laboratory. Connected to a pole, the machine was tested at a depth of 70 meters. There he swam in circles at a speed of 3.16 centimeters per second.
He then swam in the natural environment of the South China Sea at a depth of around 3,200 meters. He managed to swim successfully at 5.19 cm / s.
At the bottom of the sea
As a final test, they sank the robot in the 10,900 meter deep Mariana Trench. The robot successfully flapped its wings during the 45 minutes that the test lasted.
“It can swim freely under hydrostatic pressure of up to 110 megapascals (MPa),” they confirmed in the study.
The machine is much slower than conventional submarines. It is not ready to withstand major disturbances and can be swept away by underwater currents. The robot fish in the Mariana Trench can also be used for other tasks. From monitoring the oceans to cleaning up and preventing marine pollution and conserving biodiversity.
“Future work will focus on developing better materials. We will improve the intelligence, maneuverability and versatility of soft robots.