The RoboTuna is a robotic fish that will be able to collect samples from marine wildlife and allow us to better understand the oceanic ecosystem and the behavior of underwater creatures. This biomimetic robot will be able to get closer to fish and other creatures in their natural habitat than a person ordinarily could, and therefore will give new insights into how the underwater world is changing. Many of the RoboTuna’s pieces need to be flexible and waterproof, so casting and molding will be necessary to create them. The focus of this research was on fabricating a fin and air bladders for the RoboTuna, which included experimenting with different kinds of silicone rubber and urethane plastic. Existing soft robotic actuators have been extremely helpful to gain insight on how to move these parts without mechanical mechanisms. Shape memory alloys allow for simpler fin movement actuation instead of having to rely on a bulky motor. The same goes for moving the tail via air bladders, a kind of fluidic elastomer actuator. The differences between different kinds of silicones and how each material and molding method affected the fabricated parts are shown through flexibility and strength data. The information here can help future researchers determine what materials would be best for various parts of the RoboTuna and understand their options for soft robotic actuators.
Over the course of the past semester, the Ground Robotic Autonomous Vehicle Laboratory (GRAVL) research team has used the $945.00 awarded by the SAG Committee to develop our autonomous tractor as an advanced undergraduate robotics research platform, engage in paper-developing research, support the projects in ENGR3392 Robotic Systems Integration, and lay the groundwork for future platform improvements, projects, and research.
We have created an autonomous, biomimetic robotic fish that closely follows both the shape and motion of real animals. We hope to investigate the efficiency of this motion in order to create underwater robot swarms which require less power to operate and can be both cheaper and simpler to produce.
Had you asked me why I was attending college when I first came to Olin, I likely would have answered, “Because I want to be an engineer.” Taken at face value, this would seem a reasonable answer, but my inability to better justify such an important decision just highlights my perspective at the time that college was simply a necessary step in a path to do the kind of work I thought I was interested in. Doing things because I thought it was expected of me fairly well characterized my first few semesters at Olin, be it the classes I took or the activities I engaged in. After having spent 4 years at Olin, my perspective on my education has changed radically. Rather than trying to meet external pressure, I aim to do things because they interest me. This has enabled me to explore a much broader range of topics and draw connections between a variety of fields which I otherwise would not have been exposed to. Ultimately, choosing to tailor my educational experience has led to me being far more engaged in my learning and developing significantly as a learner. Given the impact of this on me while at Olin and how I expect it to impact me after Olin, I chose to focus my GCSP portfolio on Personalized Learning.