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Fish-like Sensors for Underwater Robots

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the fishies-are-fun dept.

Robotics 57

Roland Piquepaille writes "Today, both submarine and surface ships use sonar for navigation. But sonar and other vision systems face various limitations. So why not imitating fish? For millions of years, fish have relied on 'a row of specialized sensory organs along the sides of their bodies, called the lateral line' to avoid predators or to find preys. So engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have decided to build an artificial lateral line for submarines and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). The first tests have been successful, and we can now envision a day where AUVs could detect and track moving underwater targets or avoid collisions with moving or stationary objects."

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57 comments

slashdot (-1, Flamebait)

alfs boner (963844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18115768)

I would never socialize with a slashdot user. Sorry!

Re:slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18115830)

Don't worry most of /. users wouldn't like to socialize with you either.
And the loosing party will be you, moron.

Re:slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18115962)

lol, u r a jew.

Re:slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116054)

Wrong, I am a Catholic, you guessed incorrectly.
BTW: go back to primary school and learn how to write.

So why not imitating fish? (5, Funny)

thepotoo (829391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18115804)

So why not imitating fish?

Truly, this is a question that will plague both scientists and engrish majors for years to come.

Re:So why not imitating fish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116030)

Y'know, I've heard it said that pool spering is an indecks to mental demangement...

Re:So why not imitating fish? (1)

StinkiePhish (891084) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116044)

It's killing me right now. I AM an English major, sitting in the Grainger Engineering library at UIUC.

Re:So why not imitating fish? (0, Offtopic)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117232)

"It's"?

OK, you must be an Engrish major...

Re:So why not imitating fish? (0, Offtopic)

GodlikeDoglike (600594) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117412)

What's your issue? "It's" is short for "it is", remember? Or did you flunk out of grade school? ;)

Re:So why not imitating fish? (1)

holt (86624) | more than 6 years ago | (#18122182)

Get out of our library!

(to which the appropriate response is, "Pasty-skinned enginerds... get out of our bars!" There was an argument to this effect in the DI when I was at UIUC 2-3 years ago...)

Why would you want to be more like a fish? (1)

YourMissionForToday (556292) | more than 7 years ago | (#18115806)

Artificial lateral lines are bringing us one step closer to the post-human human. And what will you do with all that extra hardware?

You still won't be able to get laid, your shit will still stink...all in all you'll still be the same unlikeable misfit. So why even try?

Why not? (5, Funny)

djdbass (1037730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18115816)

Indeed. Why not imitating fish? All your gills are belong us.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116236)

All your girls are belong me.

Fixed that for you.

-studman69

karma whore (2, Informative)

jcgf (688310) | more than 7 years ago | (#18115824)

Biologically inspired sensors can augment sonar, vision system in submarines

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- To find prey and avoid being preyed upon, fish rely on a row of specialized sensory organs along the sides of their bodies, called the lateral line. Now, a research team led by Chang Liu at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has built an artificial lateral line that can provide the same functions in underwater vehicles.

"Our development of an artificial lateral line is aimed at enhancing human ability to detect, navigate and survive in the underwater environment," said Liu, a Willett Scholar and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois. "Our goal is to develop an artificial device that mimics the functions and capabilities of the biological system."

In fish, the lateral line provides guidance for synchronized swimming, predator and obstacle avoidance, and prey detection and tracking. Equipped with an artificial lateral line, a submarine or underwater robot could similarly detect and track moving underwater targets, and avoid collisions with moving or stationary objects.

The artificial lateral line consists of an integrated linear array of micro fabricated flow sensors, with the sizes of individual sensors and spacings between them matching those of their biological counterpart.

"By detecting changes in water pressure and movement, the device can supplement sonar and vision systems in submarines and underwater robots," said Liu, who also is affiliated with the university's Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, the Institute for Genomic Biology, and the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.

Liu and colleagues at Illinois and at Bowling Green State University described their work in the Dec. 12, 2006, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To fabricate the tiny, three-dimensional structures, individual components are first cast in place on sacrificial layers using photolithography and planar deposition. A small amount of magnetic material is electroplated onto each of the parts, which are then freed from the substrate by an etchant. When a magnetic field is applied, the induced torque causes the pieces to rotate out of the plane on tiny hinges and lock into place.

Each sensor is integrated with metal-oxide-superconductor circuitry for on-chip signal processing, noise reduction and data acquisition. The largest array the researchers have built consists of 16 flow sensors with 1 millimeter spacing. Each sensor is 400 microns wide and 600 microns tall.

In tests, the researchers' artificial lateral line was able to localize a nearby underwater vibrating source, and could detect the hydrodynamic wake (such as the wake formed behind a propeller-driven submarine) for long-distance tracking. With further advances in engineering, man-made underwater vehicles should be able to autonomously image hydrodynamic events from their surroundings, Liu said.

"Although biology remains far superior to human engineering, having a man-made parallel of the biological system allows us to learn much about both basic science and engineering," Liu said. "To actively learn from biology at the molecular, cellular, tissue and organism level is still the bigger picture." ###

The work was funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

There's a very good reason why not (4, Informative)

IdahoEv (195056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117238)

The article implies that we could replace sonar with the lateral line:

But sonar and other vision systems face various limitations. So why not imitating fish?

The lateral line is truly an amazing organ. It senses pressure and flow at numerous points on both flanks of fish, and that information helps it swim efficiently and indeed locate prey and avoid predators.

But it's fundamentally a local signal, because it can only detect within a certain range and with limited resolution. A fish can't use the lateral line to make sense of the 3D shape of an object ten meters away, because that information simply isn't transferred through the water that far.

Sonar can indeed do that, and can locate and take velocity measurements on objects *miles* away. So useful, in fact, that dolphins use it as one of their primary sensory systems, apparently getting almost as much detail from sonar as they do from vision.

A lateral line may be a very useful addition to an underwater craft, but it can't replace it as the summary implies. (TFA is smarter, BTW. Go figure.).

Re:There's a very good reason why not (1)

wolf369T (951405) | more than 6 years ago | (#18120732)

Fish use lateral line, dolphins use sonar. Sonar to be the winner here...

Er... new? (4, Interesting)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18115880)

As far as I can tell from the article (hah!), the flow-sensors aren't new, though they may be uniquely orientable with applied magnetic fields. Really, this just looks (to me) as though it's a low-frequency linear acoustic array, and those have been used for a LONG time for this sort of thing. It seems to me that the individual sensors might be what are actually of interest.

Re:Er... new? (1)

ringman8567 (895757) | more than 6 years ago | (#18123574)

with 1 milimetre spacing it certainly isn't a low frequency linear accoustic array.

Re:Er... new? (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#18126138)

"Low frequency" usually refers to the bandwidth detectable by the individual detectors.The tight spacing allows better directional determination, since to determine direction one normally makes use of phase information in the signal, or at least relative timings. If each of the detectors averages over its sensitive face and really gives one an idea of only the average pressure on the detector at any time, then putting many of them in a line gives relative timing data as signals wash by several of them. If your individual detectors don't give meaningful pressures at low frequencies, then the whole array is pretty worthless.

Tag suggestion (1)

Akki (722261) | more than 7 years ago | (#18115990)

Tag suggestion: preys

Re:Tag suggestion (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116432)

Please keep religion out of this...

Re:Tag suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18118730)

Religion has everything to do with this. Just another example of man taking the creator's designs and implementing them. Biomimicry is just that.

Get a new toy, Give up an old toy. (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116056)

I'm glad this technology will help keep us safe from terrorists with submarines, now can we give up Low Frequency Active Sonar?

Re:Get a new toy, Give up an old toy. (1)

ScottFree2600 (929714) | more than 6 years ago | (#18120064)

This development is for AUV's/UUV's and have nothing to do with submarines.
We used UUV's in Iraq to clear the waterways (there ARE waterways!) of mines. This means less need for trained dolphins and related dolphin headaches and expenses. See http://www.joetalbot.net/index_10.htm [joetalbot.net]

Re:Get a new toy, Give up an old toy. (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18130030)

I'm hopeing your statement "related dolphin headaches" was meant to be funny. (My problem with Low Frequency Active Sonar, is the damage it does to marine mammals that use sonar.)

Timing (1)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116114)

According to this article [globalsecurity.org] the timing couldn't be better if we assume that China is actually a world power with the capability of projecting force. Politically they are quite happy with their relationship [census.gov] to the U.S. Militarily there isn't much of a chance that we'll be playing in the sandbox nicely [military.com] together.

Re:Timing (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116766)

I always laugh at the idiots who claim that Iran or NK (or even Iraq) is a threat to us. They are small countries that we can put in to 5 nukes and destroy the total country. In contrast, these countries do not have the economic might to build enough nukes to threaten all of their enemy (nk => sk, and Iran => Isreal), let alone USA. Finally, our current anti missile systems are capable of taking our any thing that is inbound. Shortly, we will have lasers with better capabilities. Of course, I have to admit that I do not want to be at the target point counting on the American system to work flawlessly.

China is in the process of trying to destroy America. It is not the fact that jobs are moving there. It is the fact that they have their money fixed to ours which prevents any real competition. But that is by design. It is obvious that they are attempting to remove our manufacturing base, and then bankrupt us. Once the base is gone, so is the ability to build a strong military, space, medical, or even educational systems. Sadly, by the time that the average voter figures this out, we will already be federally bankrupt (if we are not already there), AND will be in so much debt that we can not get out.

Re:Timing (1)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117306)

>>these countries do not have the economic might to build enough nukes to threaten all of their enemy (nk => sk, and Iran => Isreal), let alone USA.

You are so wrong it is painful.

Please consult a map. Israel is an extremely small country which could easily be destroyed with a couple modest-yield nuclear weapons.
While you have that map handy, have a look at the distance from the North Korea/South Korea border to the capitol of North Korea, an extremely densely populated area. A nuclear strike to that one city would cripple South Korea, and take millions of lives.

As for your belief that Iran and/or North Korea do not have "the economic might" to build nukes... stay tuned. It is happening now. History will prove you an ass.

Re:Timing (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117888)

I think you have it all wrong. Any autocratic country only requires one weapon to take out all of it's leadership and they have lost or won, depending upon whether you are the dead ruler or the now liberated citizenship.

Which is why of course autocratic countries always shy away from actually using weapons of mass destruction against other countries (only used to threaten other countries), they don't really care how many of their citizens you or even they kill, they only really care if they are personally targeted.

As for China's shift from communism to corporate fascism, well, it just appears the leadership has figured out which is personally the most profitable and which is also the most effective weapon for global dominance.

Chinese politics is interesting, you can readily tell when a politician is out of favor, they get charged and convicted for corruption, they all do it, but it's only the political losers that loose their lives for it.

Re:Timing (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18119150)

Look, how many nukes could Iran or NK make total? 100 each (and that is being very generous)? Whats more, if Iran pops up with an explosion, how long will it be before they are isolated from the rest of the world? It will happen very quick. But at this time, America has the ability to stop their missiles. In addition, as I pointed out, we will have more capability in the near future concerning stopping missiles(ABL platform should do a nice job from Iraq/Kuwait area and SK is plenty good for NK). All in all, Iran is a none issue. Likewise, NK. BTW, I do not need to consult a map. My brother served there, retired, and is now working there in a similar capacity. I am well aware of exactly their size (he is located 20 miles from the dmz). I am also aware that NK will not launch a nuke into SK. Why? because it would not be us that they would fear. It would be China and Russia. While both countries appear to tolerate NK, it is only because they cause us (America) so much issues. If either country felt that NK had the same capabilities as themselves, they will take actions against it.

History has already proved me correct. NK could not blow a real detinitaion. The inside scoop is supposedly, that it was NONE nuclear. That is why they were willing to deal with us. As it is, they got everything that Clinton gave them AND 1 years supply of fuel. Offhand, they were smart enough to make something appear to be nuclear and then got us to give them a better deal than they had before. The hawks (such as bolton) that are saying that this was a bad deal are right on the money.

Re:Timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117784)

See the other commenter.

Furthermore, China is rising, but you have not shown it to be a threat. Yes, they are getting most of our manufacturing, but your implication that America would be unable to recover that if it needed it is silly.

Also, I think a few more people in the world who have 2.5 kids and a house and dog would probably make the world a happier place. At the very least, there would be resistance against large amounts of agitation toward external war. How could the world be worse off with a responsible, powerful nation keeping Asia in line?

Re:Timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18118812)

Shortly, we will have lasers with better capabilities.
Yes! Equipped on the heads of sharks, no less!

fRucker (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18116206)

I Thought it was my ultimatel7, we is busy infighting surprise to the

Damn it ZONK (0)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18116418)

Oh great, another Ronald PorkPie story on slashdot...

Re:Damn it ZONK (1)

sponger (96171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117278)

get the greasemonkey script to block his stories

there is nothing more amusing than seeing the greyout story by this drivel.

Step 1 to subarine domination... (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117296)

This is so obviously a set up. Liu was planted by the Chinese government to assist in the three steps to dominion of the deep...

Step 1: Trick the United States into removing sonar from their subs and replacing it with sensors imitating the lateral lines of fish.

Step 2: Build Chinese submarines with emourmous mouths and "Hyper Active Sonars" that mimmicks the sonar of the dolphins.

Step 3: Use said H.A.S. to stun the US submarines so they are easier to catch and eat, just as Dolphins do to fish.

Re:Step 1 to subarine domination... (1)

Dean Hougen (970749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18118128)

This is so obviously a set up. Liu was planted by the Chinese government to assist in the three steps to dominion of the deep...

Step 1: Trick the United States into removing sonar from their subs and replacing it with sensors imitating the lateral lines of fish.

Step 2: Build Chinese submarines with emourmous mouths and "Hyper Active Sonars" that mimmicks the sonar of the dolphins.

Step 3: Use said H.A.S. to stun the US submarines so they are easier to catch and eat, just as Dolphins do to fish.

Step 4: ?????

Step 5: Profit!

Dean

Hey, somebody had to say it.

interesting (1)

zobier (585066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117896)

The problem with *AR is that it's not passive, therefore it's not stealthy as people can "hear" you looking; In Soviet Russia, Enemy finds your RADAR. This is an interesting development.

RP don't know a whole lot about sonar apparently (0, Offtopic)

Thu Anon Coward (162544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117966)

"Today, both submarine and surface ships use sonar for navigation. But sonar and other vision systems face various limitations. So why not imitating fish? For millions of years, fish have relied on 'a row of specialized sensory organs along the sides of their bodies, called the lateral line' to avoid predators or to find preys. So engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have decided to build an artificial lateral line for submarines and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). The first tests have been successful, and we can now envision a day where AUVs could detect and track moving underwater targets or avoid collisions with moving or stationary objects."
myself speaking as a former submariner, he doesn't quite know what he is talking about. there is passive and active sonar. passive is listening, active is sending out pings. using passive hurts nothing. in addition to which, we have fairly accurate charts of the ocean bottom as well as mounts (underwater mountains). we use the charts in combination with the inertial tracker to also chart where we are. the inertial tracker is _extremely_ accurate. and, of course, we have GPS when we come to the surface. so, you see, submarines do not really use sonar for navigation (the active kind of sonar that everyone knows about).

no doubt there is a former Sonar Shack operator that will say I don't know what I am talking about. he may be right, since I was A-gang Machinist Mate nuke school dropout, and not a STS ranker. but then again, I'll go up against him anyday on ship operation qualifications.

Re:RP don't know a whole lot about sonar apparentl (1)

perryna (650115) | more than 6 years ago | (#18124954)

I guess the US Navy did too good a job of classifying SOSUS, it's now declassified as of the early 90's, after the end of the "cold war"; it used arrays on the ocean bottom employing passive sonar to detect Soviet submarines. It was highly successful, and had been in operation since the 1950's. The arrays were a series of hydrophones strung out in a approximate linear arrangement at an optimum depth. The arrays were able to determine the bearing of the sound source by the phase delay of the sound waves received, and triangulation from simulataneous detection by several stations, each with its own set of arrays. Depth, location, orientation, was all carefully planned to improve the signal-to-noise ratio to allow maximum detection capability. The accuracy of bearing determination (direction) was calibrated by US Navy ships towing a sound source, keeping a continuous record of time vs. ship's position, then comparing the ship's actual position with the SOSUS arrays data. SOSUS is now reincarnated as a research tool used by civilian oceanographers.

Re:RP don't know a whole lot about sonar apparentl (1)

Thu Anon Coward (162544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180012)

You are right about SOSUS. But why I was modded down to Offtopic by someone when I specifically addressed sonar usage by a submarine just shows that you can't make /. readers happy, especially the ignant ones.

How useful can this be at any range? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18120144)

My (not topic-educated) thought process on this:

I would think this involves massive matrix-style calculations that cross-reference the detection of every sensor into creating a virtual 'object' when detected by water pressure and movement. Water flows that go towards the ocean floor obviously do not approach the floor at a 90 degree angle before turning as they hit it, but are distorted some distance before hitting the floor. It should obviously be possible to 'feel' that water flows are distorted before they actually reach whatever is distorting them.

My question is whether you can do this for an object 50 or 100 meters away. It sounds rather implausible.

IT'S... BEAUTIFUL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18120932)

life-like texture ;_;
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