Key fish sensory organ to improve navigation skills of underwater robots

Key fish sensory organ to improve navigation skills of underwater robots

fish

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Scientists, led by the University of Bristol, have been studying a fish sensory organ to understand signals from collective behavior that could be used in underwater robots.

This work focused on the lateral line sensory organ in African cichlid fish, but it is found in almost all species of fish, allowing them to feel and interpret the water pressures around them acutely enough to detect external influences. , like neighboring fish, changes in water flow. , predators and obstacles.

The lateral line system as a whole is distributed over the head, trunk and tail of the fish. It is made up of mechanoreceptors (neuromasta) that are located within the 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 were trying to find out if the different areas of the lateral line, the lateral head line versus the lateral body line, or the different Types of Lateral line sensory units such as those on the skin versus those below it play different roles in how the fish can sense its surroundings through environmental pressure readings.

“We did this in a novel way, using hybrid fish, which allowed for the natural generation of variation.”

They found that the lateral line system around the head has the most important influence on the fish’s ability to swim in a school. Meanwhile, the presence of more lateral line sensory units, neuromasts, which lie under the skin, cause the fish to swim closer. together, whereas a greater presence of neuromasts in the skin tends to make the fish swim further apart.

In the simulation, the researchers were able to show how the mechanisms behind lateral line work are applicable not only to the tiny scales found on real fish, but on larger scales as well. This could inspire a new type of easily fabricated pressure sensor for underwater robotics, particularly swarm robotics, where cost is an important factor.

Elliott said: “These findings provide a better understanding of how the lateral line informs schooling behavior in fish, while contributing to a novel, inexpensive pressure sensor design that could be useful in underwater robots that have to navigate in dark or cloudy environments”.

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

The article is published in Royal Society for Open Sciences.

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

Provided by the University of Bristol

Citation: Fish Sensory Organ Key to Improve Navigation Skills of Underwater Robots (Jan 24, 2023) Retrieved Jan 24, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-fish-sensory-key -skills-underwater.html

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