Robotic fish. The phrase alone sends shivers of excitement down our collective spines here at Engadget. Undoubtedly, Michigan State University assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering Xiaobo Tan feels similarly, as he has designs on creating an army of them. The researcher has developed a prototype of a droid fish intended to be used to collect data from various bodies of water. The fish will be especially effective in monitoring conditions over long periods of time; swimming in a manner similar to that of their organic counterparts, thus giving scientists a clearer view of ecosystem changes. Elena Litchman, an assistant professor of zoology at MSU working with Tan says, "With these patrolling fish we will be able to obtain information at an unprecedentedly high spatial and temporal resolution." To recreate realistic movement, Tan has constructed fins built from electro-active polymers, which bend when voltage is applied, mimicking muscle tissue. Tan also envisions a version of the robots with infrared sensors used as "eyes," and other variations with small, deadly lasers mounted on their backs, to protect their waterways from careless, polluting humans, who have been deduced as illogical and must be wiped out. We might have made that last part up, but we'll never tell. While you try and figure it out, enjoy a video of one of the protypes in action after the break.

[Via PhysOrg]