It may look like a lobotomized coconut and a stray bit of tin foil, but Maurizio Porfiri's robot fish
is something we don't see often: an attempt to naturally control wildlife. With an electroactive polymer
locomotion system designed to mimic the powerful motions of fish leaders, his fake fish can trick schools of real ones to follow. The idea is to one day steer helpless creatures away from dangerous objects like turbines, but there's still loads of work to do before then -- presently, the robot can only swim in two dimensions, and requires a battery to operate. Porfiri's team at NYU Poly is already researching ways to harvest energy from the water itself
, though, and he expects to have his fish powered by waves before long. Watch an early prototype in action after the break.