An underwater robot has been developed to mimic one of nature's most graceful swimmers â€” a manta ray.
Called the Mantabot, it's been designed to examine the unique way in which batoid rays such as stingrays and manta rays swim through the water — and hopefully even improve on it (scroll down for video).
Professor Hilary Bart-Smith of the University of Virginia says: "We are learning from nature, but we also are innovating; trying to move beyond emulation."
The Mantabot is operated by remote control, through a computer. The wings are made from silicone and contain rods and cables that expand and retract and change shape to facilitate what is essentially underwater flight.
The Mantabot has been modelled on the Cownose ray — a type of eagle ray — which is a species common to the western Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay.
The robotic ray has potential commercial and military applications, and could be used for undersea exploration and scientific research.
It looks remarkably similar to the real thing, which means that it would hopefully operate in the ocean without affecting the natural creatures or their habitats.
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