A fish’s sensory organ is the key to improving the navigational skills of underwater robots

A fish’s sensory organ is the key to improving the navigational skills of underwater robots


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Scientists, led by the University of Bristol, are studying a fish’s sensory organ to understand clues to collective behavior that could be used in underwater robots.

This work was focused on the lateral line sensing organ in African cichlid fish, but it is found in almost all fish species, which enables them to sense and interpret water pressures around them with sufficient sharpness to external influences on like neighboring fish, detecting changes in water flow. , predators and obstacles.

The entire lateral line system is distributed over the head, trunk and tail of the fish. It consists of mechanoreceptors (neuromasts) that are within subdermal channels or on the surface of the skin.

Lead author Elliott Scott from the University of Bristol’s Department of Mathematical Engineering explained, “We wanted to find out whether the different areas of the lateral line – the lateral line on the head versus the lateral line on the body, or the types different lateral line sensory units such as those on the skin, compared to those underneath, play different roles in how the fish is able to sense its environment through environmental pressure readings.

“We did this in a new way, by using hybrid fish, which allowed the natural generation of diversity.”

They found that the lateral line system around the head is the most important influence on how well a fish is able to swim in a shoal, Meanwhile, the presence of line sensory units more laterally, neuromasts, which are found under the result of fish skin swimming closer. together, and fish tend to swim further apart as a result of the presence of more nerve trees on the skin.

In a simulation, the researchers were able to show how the mechanisms behind lateral line work are applicable not only on the tiny scales found in actual fish, but also on larger scales. This could inspire a new type of easily manufactured pressure sensor for underwater robotics, especially swarm robotics, where cost is a big factor.

Elliott said, “These results provide a better understanding of how the lateral line informs oscillating behavior in fish, and at the same time provide a new design for a free pressure sensor that could be useful in underwater robots who have to navigate dark or dark environments.”

The team now plans to further develop the sensor and integrate it into a robot platform to help a robot dive and demonstrate its effectiveness.

The paper is published in Royal Society Open Science.

More information:
Elliott Scott et al, Lateral line morphology, sensory perception and collective behavior in African cichlid fishes, Royal Society Open Science (2023). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.221478. royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.221478

Available at the University of Bristol

Quote: Fish sensory organ key to improve navigation skills of underwater robots (2023, January 24) retrieved on January 24, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-fish-sensory-key-skills-underwater .html

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