A new swimming robot inspired by the mechanisms of sea lions is able to move smoothly through the water with almost no wake.
Sea lions differ from many other sea creatures in that they propel themselves with front flippers instead of a tail—a method leaves almost no wake in the water. Inspired by the unique design, a team from George Washington University created a robotic sea lion flipper based on video studies of a sea lion in motion. After tracking the forelimb movement frame by frame to create a mathematical representation of the flipper, the team created a plastic version and covered it with a 3D-printed silicon covering based on a scan of an actual flipper.
The flipper will soon be tested alongside real sea lions, and could lead to a new designs for stealthy underwater vehicles.
Sea Lion Image: William Atkins/The George Washington University
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