A swimming robot inspired by a 400 million-year-old parasitic fish


About 400 million years ago, a jawless parasitic fish called agnata lived, feeding by sucking blood from other animals, and now scientists have built a robot inspired by this fish with the aim of studying the spinal cord and peripheral nervous system of lamprey fish similar to the spinal cord and nervous system of humans.

The robot is designed to study the spinal cord and peripheral nervous system of a fish called a lamprey, says Camilo Mello, CEO of KM Robota, a bio-bottom company, and a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

According to Camilo, these animals can teach us a lot about ourselves, because the spinal cord and peripheral nervous system are similar to those of humans, and have not changed much over the past hundreds of millions of years of evolution.

The team says that the swimming robot, Agnatha X, helped contribute to gaining new information about how the fish’s central and peripheral nervous systems interact to coordinate movement.

After making several cuts and dislocations in the robot’s spinal cord, the team noticed how the robot was still able to swim because sensors on the outside that mimicked the fish’s peripheral nervous system allowed the robot to sense water and maintain its swimming wave pattern continuously.

Camilo revealed that next steps for this project could include attempts to steer the robot and test its ability to swim in more turbulent waters. This research could also aid in the development of future swimming robots, particularly in ocean exploration.

The research was published in Science Robotics in August of this year, InGadget website reported.

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