Science often looks to nature for inspiration on how to improve a concept which is already used. Just as flippers help a swimmer or diver to move through the water, the same principle could replace the propeller that is normally used in submersibles. Specifically, the bluegill sunfish is being studied by researchers from MIT as a way to make better unmanned submersibles. Apparently, the bluegill has a distinctive swimming motion which is optimal for producing forward thrust. They cite military needs as a reason for the technology. The team is using a new polymer which conducts electricity to mimic the fish. When an electric current is applied to the polymer, it changes shape. By changing the polarity of the current, the team can force the "fin" to make the necessary movements to induce forward thrust. This technology allows for a system with no motors, which keeps the noise and vibrations to a minimum.

In the future, you might need to watch where you cast that fishing line...

[Source: Physorg]


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