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Robot Ray Swims ­sing High-Voltage Artificial Muscles

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The robot ray in action.

Researchers have developed a robotic ray that moves by flapping wings made of dielectric elastomers.

Credit: Science Advances

Researchers from Zhejiang University in China have developed a robotic ray that is propelled by soft, flapping wings made of dielectric elastomers, which bend when electricity is applied to them.

The researchers note the robotic ray is almost entirely transparent, with its body, fins, tail, and elastomer muscles completely see-through.

In addition, a 450-mAh, 3.7-volt battery can keep the robot swimming at 1.1 centimeters per second for three hours 15 minutes while carrying a tiny camera.

The ray's maximum untethered speed is 6.4 centimeters a second, and the robot can function in water temperatures ranging from slightly above freezing to nearly 75 degrees Celsius.

The researchers have yet to suggest any specific applications for the robot, making it simply a proof of concept of the technologies, and leaving a practical robot for future generations.

From IEEE Spectrum
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