Plenary Talk :
A bio-inspired robotic knifefish with an undulatory propulsor and active electrosensory system
South American electric knifefish are a leading model system within neurobiology. Recent efforts have focused on understanding their biomechanics and relating this to their neuronal sensory processing strategies. Knifefish swim by means of an undulatory fin that runs most of the length of their body, affixed to the belly. Propelling themselves with this fin enables them to keep their body relatively straight while swimming, a significant advantage for using this approach for underwater robots. In this study, we examined the basic properties of knifefish swimming through use of an undulatory robot that is similar in some key respects to the knifefish. We also explore a novel mode of locomotion discovered with the aid of the robot which allows the animal to swim vertically. Finally, we show results from an artificial active electrosensory system that has significant promise as a low-energy sensing technology for underwater vehicles.