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FishBots: Bio-Inspired Marine Robots Give Students a Hands-On Introduction to Fluid Mechanics

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Simple bio-inspired marine robots were used as teaching tools to introduce students to concepts in fluid mechanics, marine robotics, and how biological swimming mechanisms can provide fertile ground for new ideas in underwater propulsion. These robots, termed FishBots, were used in two educational situations. The first was a project for two undergraduate summer interns at MIT Sea Grant. This experience proved that such robots could be developed by undergraduates under the time constraint of a 1-month internship. Building on that success, we used FishBots successfully in an undergraduate freshman seminar class at MIT. In one semester, 29 students built 13 FishBots, all were tested in the water and 11 successfully swam, meaning they moved in a roughly straight line. These educational experiences are described in this paper along with the design of several of the student-built FishBots. The paper concludes with future educational paths for the FishBot idea.
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Keywords: bio-inspired robots; fish swimming; fluid mechanics; hands-on learning; marine robotics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2020

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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