Underwater craft have come a long way since Bond drove that Lotus into the sea, but even today they still have problems: conventional propeller-driver robots get tangled on underwater obstacles like seaweed and rope, and the noise confuses the cute little dolphins who use vibrations to navigate. That’s why this underwater drone uses fins to nip around under the sea.
The robot, built by students from the Institute of Technology in Zurich, takes inspiration from the cuttlefish with its four-finned propulsion system. The fins are nearly silent, tangle-proof and also give an impressive range of mobility. The applications for commercial underwater robots (such as those used for salvage or on oil rigs) are obvious; but I also get the feeling that the US Navy, with its love for super-stealthy underwater killing machines, might want a word as well. [New Scientist]