researchers from the national university of singapore (NUS) have created a manta ray robot that swims faster and for longer than traditional autonomous underwater vehicles. dubbed the ‘mantadroid’, the aquatic robot moves at the speed of twice its body length per second – equating to 0.7 meters a second – and operating for up to 10 hours. it enhances the unique and distinctive swimming locomotive of the similarly named marine animals, which effortless glide through water by flapping its pectoral fins.


all images courtesy of the national university of singapore

 

 

unlike other flapping-based underwater robots that replicate manta ray’s flapping kinematics by using multiple motors to achieve active actuations throughout the fins, mantadroid is powered by only one electric motor on each fin. we then let the passive flexibility of the fins interact naturally with the fluid dynamics of the water to propel the subsequent motions,‘ explains associate professor chew chee meng. who, alongside associate professor yeo khoon seng, led a team of researchers at the department of mechanical engineering at NUS.


the NUS researchers with the nature inspired robot

 

 

measuring 35cm in length, 63cm in width and 0.7kg in weight, the manta ray robot’s fins are made from PVC sheets. these replacements to propeller-based thrusters are connected to a flat and wide body that can accommodate sensors for marine studies, hydrographic data and search operations. with its bolstered performance and capability features, the ‘mantadroid’ aims to showcase what the future could look like for future autonomous underwater vehicles.

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