It’s What’s Inside that Counts, Unless You’re a Robotic Fish

USC Viterbi –

When humans first conceived of robots, they were clunky, made of sheets of aluminum and steel that prevented them from moving fluidly. Even from a distance, there was no chance of mistaking a robot for a human—or any other type of living creature.

Using computer-aided design (CAD) modeling, a team of student engineers, working with Dr. Satyandra K. Gupta, Smith International Professor in Mechanical Engineering and associate chair of the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, strove to advance applications of robotics by creating a soft robotic fish who, from a distance, would be mistaken for a real one.

The fish, named SCI-FI BOT (Sarasa Comet Inspired Fish Robot), was modeled after the Sarasa Comet Goldfish. “It’s a super common fish, especially in America. It will make it easier to study the fish and its motions, and make it as realistic as possible,” said Mishaal Parekh, a USC Viterbi sophomore.

That reality was achieved step by step for less than $200, through the hard work of two groups of graduate and undergraduate mechanical engineering students. Launched in the summer of 2018 with an initial team of two students—Aniruddha Shembekar and Rohil Aggarwal—who gave the fish its rudimentary elements, the fish gained its intuitive, realistic movement and look through the work of a second team, over the past semester.

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