In this video from Reuters, Maurizio Porfiri, an Assistant Professor of Engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, is working on a robotic fish designed to lead schools of real fish away from dangers, such as oil spills or turbines.
The hardest part for Porfiri and his team has been discovering exactly what traits fish look for in a leader, so that their robot can successfully mimic these to gain the followers. Experimenting with small schools of fish, Porfiri has been fine tuning his robot to swim with the fast and erratic behaviors that fish would perceive a leader, or mate, to have.
Eventually, Porfiri would like to program his robotic fish to autonomously lead schools without any human control necessary, and to one day also be equipped with sophisticated sensors that can collect data on fish and their interactions with their environment and other species.
WATCH building a robot to save fish from danger: