Technology 2 min read

Meet the Robotic Lionfish Powered By 'Synthetic Blood'

Scientists developed a 'synthetic blood' to power a robotic lionfish. The team now plans to use the same hydraulic fluid to power other soft robots, vehicles, and other machines.

Image Credit: James Pikul

Image Credit: James Pikul

Scientists have developed a soft robotic lionfish that is powered by a multipurpose blood-like compound.

Most modern robots come with elements that serve a single purpose. For example, some machines have batteries to store energy while others come with gears to transmit power.

In the end, the single purpose elements increase the robot’s size and bulk. This, in turn, reduces the machine’s flexibility, dexterity, and autonomy.

Animals, on the other hand, have multifunctional parts. Consider the fish and its gills, which serves different purposes aside from letting the creature breathe underwater.

These include maintaining body fluid pressure, waste discharge, as well as regulating the acid-base balance.

Needless to say that animals are incredibly complex when compared with robots.

Taking a cue from nature, researchers from Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania developed a robot with a dual-purpose component. They created a unique circulatory system which not only powers the robot but serves as a means of propulsion too.

A Robotic Lionfish Propelled By Synthetic Blood

The researchers designed synthetic blood to act as a hydraulic fluid. That way, the robotic fish could move its pectoral fin to swim against the current.

Since the “blood” was also an electrolyte solution, it held the energy necessary to power the fish. The result was a robot with greater physical autonomy as well as a higher energy storage efficiency.

How does it work?

In a statement to Gizmodo, co-author of the study, James Pikul explained:

“As the fluid is pumped through the fish robot, the moving fluid also causes the robot to move. The vascular system, therefore, is multifunctional. It is these multiple functions that allow the robot to maintain its dexterity while also having a long operational time.”

In several tests to access the robotic fish’s swimming duration, the researchers recorded figures which exceeded 36 hours.

Also, the robots displayed a relatively high dexterity. When swimming against a current, the fish moved at 1.5 body length per minutes. While this may not seem huge, it could change everything.

Using the synthetic fluid, Pikul and his team intend to power other machines. These include electric cars, airplanes, and soft robots.

As the chemistry of the “blood” becomes more complex, the researcher believes they could introduce more new features to soft robots.

Read More: Autonomous Weapons: Why the Future of War is Robotic

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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