Unmanned underwater vehicle mimics the actions of tuna fish

Engineers in Boston are working on the development of an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) based on the tuna fish — one of the fastest and most manoeuvrable creatures on the planet.

Dubbed BioSwimmer, the robotic fish is being built for the US department of home security by Boston Engineering Corporation. Featuring a flexible aft section and a series of carefully positioned fins, the innovative vehicle is being designed to operate in hard-to-reach underwater spaces that are outside the comfort zone of existing UUVs.

The team involved in the project claims that the system could be used for a variety of applications, including inspecting the interior voids of ships and carrying out security and reconnaissance missions.

Powered by batteries, BioSwimmer uses an onboard computer suite for navigation, sensor processing and communications, while operators can use a laptop-based control unit to send commands to the vehicle.

‘We’re using nature as a basis for design and engineering a system that works exceedingly well,’ said program manager David Taylor. ‘Tuna have had millions of years to develop their ability to move in the water with astounding efficiency. Hopefully we won’t take that long.’