Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Team Creates Realistic Robot Carp, First Robot Fish with Autonomous 3-D Movement in Asia

Research paves the way for the designing and engineering of more efficient autonomous underwater vehicles for wide-range applications, including military and underwater terrain exploration.

A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering has developed a robot fish that mimics the movements of a carp. This robot which is essentially an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is ready for applications, as it can be programmed to perform specific functions, for example, for underwater archaeology such as exploring nooks and corners of wreckage -- or sunken city which are difficult for divers or traditional AUVs to access. Other applications include military activities, pipeline leakage detection, and the laying of communication cable.

The team comprises Professor Xu Jianxin, Mr Fan Lupeng, graduating Electrical Engineering student and Research Fellow, Dr Ren Qinyuan. Mr Fan worked on the project for his final year which won the High Achievement Award at the Faculty’s 27th Innovation and Research Award. It will also be featured at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, a top international conference on intelligent robots, in Tokyo on 3-7 November 2013.

Said Prof Xu, “Currently, robot fish capable of 2-D movements are common, meaning that these models are not able to dive into the water. Our model is capable of 3-D movements as it can dive and float, using its fins like a real fish. Compared to traditional AUVs, they are certainly more mobile, with greater manoeuvrability. If used for military purpose, fish robots would definitely be more difficult to detect by the enemy.”

Fish robots are also quieter and consume less energy, compared to traditional AUVs. Said Mr Fan who studied the movements of real life carps for three months, in order to develop their robot, “We chose to study carps because most fish swim like them. There is no literature at all on designing a mathematical model on the locomotion of fish and so we had to start from scratch. We used a camera to capture all the possible movements of a carp and then converted the data mathematically so that we could transfer the locomotion of real carp to our robot using different actuators.”

This has been most challenging as fish use a lot of different muscles to move, and many actuators are required to enable the robot to move in the same manner.

Added Dr Ren, “Some fish can achieve almost 180 degree turning in a small turning radius through bending their body while traditional underwater vehicles have a much larger turning radius. Hence it is quite a feat for us to achieve this movement in our robot fish.”

Other challenges included waterproofing the fish body, the motor and the control box. The fins and tails also need to be flexible and the team decided to use very fine (1mm) acrylic board for these. Buoyancy and balance for the robot is maintained by using plastic foams attached to both sides. For the diving mechanism, their robot fish is equipped with an internal ballast system to change density. The system is sophisticated enough to enable the fish to dive suddenly, as well as to the precise depth intended.

The team has constructed two fish robots. The larger prototype is about one and half metres in length, weighing about 10kg and it can dive to a depth of 1.8 metres. The smaller robot is about 60 centimetres long and weighs a mere 1.5kg. It is developed for investigation on 2D motion control and motion planning in a small place, and it can only swim at water surface.

“To my knowledge, the world’s smallest fish robot is one about 12.7 centimetres (5 inches) in length. It was designed by MIT for specific military purpose and could go to a depth of 1.5 metres,” said Dr Ren.

Moving forward

Underwater vehicles have long gone past the days of the submarines, said Mr Fan. Fish robots, besides being a micro submarine, can also be fully autonomous and can be programmed to perform many difficult and dangerous tasks.

The team hopes to make their robot fish even smaller and more realistic. Said Mr Fan, ”We intend to equip it with more sensors like GPS and video camera to improve autonomous 3-D movement. We also intend to test out our fish with more challenging tasks such as object detection.”

Images and their captions can be downloaded at (link will expire on 10 July 2013): Please attribute image credits to: National University of Singapore.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Karen LOH
Senior Manager, Media Relations
Office of Corporate Relations
National University of Singapore
DID: (65) 6601 1485
About National University of Singapore (NUS)
A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.
NUS has 16 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 37,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives.

NUS has three Research Centres of Excellence (RCE) and 23 university-level research institutes and centres. It is also a partner in Singapore’s 5th RCE. NUS shares a close affiliation with 16 national-level research institutes and centres. Research activities are strategic and robust, and NUS is well-known for its research strengths in engineering, life sciences and biomedicine, social sciences and natural sciences. It also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.

For more information, please visit

Karen LOH | Newswise
Further information:

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging
25.10.2016 | Colorado State University

nachricht Did you know that infrared heating is an essential part of automotive manufacture?
25.10.2016 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>