Tired of slow, pokey robots? Well, feast your eyes (just your eyes - you can't make sushi out of this) Robotic Yellowfin tuna.
Modelled specifically after the yellowfin tuna and the related Atlantic mackerel, the device was created via a collaboration between mechanical engineers at the University of Virginia and Harvard University. Significantly scaled down from the actual tuna, which can get up to 7 feet (2 m) long, it's approximately 10 inches (25.5 cm) in length.
When the Tunabot was tethered in flow tanks at both universities, laser-based fluid-motion analysis showed that it was capable of swimming at a maximum speed equivalent to that of a real yellowfin of the same size – about four body lengths per second.
"We don’t assume that biology has evolved to the best solution," says U Virginia's Prof. Hilary Bart-Smith, leader of the study. "These fishes have had a long time to evolve to a solution that enables them to survive, specifically, to eat, reproduce and not be eaten. Unconstrained by these requirements, we can focus solely on mechanisms and features that promote higher performance, higher speed, higher efficiency. Our ultimate goal is to surpass biology."
In her 2012 novel Re:Set, Susan Beetlestone describes a robotic eel:
It was a small electronics lab, but I took no note of anything but the Eel. It was about five feet long, a silver flexiprene-covered body like a fat snake, a black bullet head and red camera eyes. I was puzzled that they had it tethered inside a wire cage... The Eel flexed its body, rattling the cage, and moved its head to look directly at me.