Meet Mantabot, a bio-mechanical manta ray, developed by researchers at the University of Virginia that mimics the real thing. So move over robofish, you have company! Described as one of nature’s most smooth and graceful swimmers, the manta ray is an intriguing target to use as a model for a mechanized swimmer showing how far along robotics are coming, especially in the saltwater realm. Click through for more info and a video of the Mantabot in action.
University of Virginia spokersperson Professor Hilary Bart-Smith notes, “We are learning from nature, but we also are innovating; trying to move beyond emulation.”
The Mantabot made from silicon with rods and cables to mimic the muscles of the manta ray that allows it to propel and glide itself through the water. The team steers and controls the Mantabot via a remote control and computer.
The Mantabot has been modelled on the Cownose ray a species native to the western Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay. The team is looking at how this can be used in undersea exploration and scientific research. Similar to other robotic fish, the natural behavior of the Mantabot could potentially allow it to operate in its native environment without affecting other natural creature or their habitats.