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Living machinesA handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems$
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Tony J. Prescott, Nathan Lepora, and Paul F.M.J Verschure

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199674923.001.0001

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Electric sensing for underwater navigation

Electric sensing for underwater navigation

(p.176) Chapter 19 Electric sensing for underwater navigation
Living machines

Frédéric Boyer

Vincent Lebastard

Oxford University Press

Underwater navigation in turbid water for exploration in catastrophic conditions or navigation in confined unstructured environments is still a challenge for robotics. In these conditions, neither vision nor sonar can be used. Pursuing a bio-inspired approach in robotics, one can seek solutions in nature to solve this difficult problem. Several hundred fish species in families Gymnotidae and Mormyridae have developed an original sense well adapted to this situation: the electric sense. Gnathonemus petersii first polarizes its body with respect to an electric organ discharge located at the base of its tail and generates a dipolar electric field in its near surroundings. Then, using many transcutaneous electro-receptors distributed along its body, the fish “measures” the distortion of the electric field and infers an image of its surroundings. Understanding and implementing this bio-inspired sense offers the opportunity to enhance the navigation abilities of our underwater robots in confined spaces bathed by turbid waters.

Keywords:   electrolocation, electric sense, bio-inspired sense, underwater navigation, active sensing

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