Robotic Fish: Design and characterization of an interactive iDevice-controlled robotic fish for informal science education

Paul Phamduy, Raymond Legrand, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this article, we present the design, development, and characterization of a biomimetic robotic fish remotely controlled by an iDevice application (app) for use in informal science education. By leveraging robots, biomimicry, and iDevices, we seek to establish an engaging and unique experience for free-choice learners visiting aquariums, zoos, museums, and other public venues. The robotic fish incorporates a three-degree-of-freedom tail along with a combined pitch and buoyancy control system, allowing for high maneuverability in an underwater three-dimensional (3-D) space. The iDevice app implements three modes of control that offer a vividly colored, intuitive, and user-friendly theme to enhance the user experience when controlling the biomimetic robotic fish. In particular, the implemented modes vary in the degree of autonomy of the robotic fish, from fully autonomous to remotely controlled. A series of tests are conducted to assess the performance of the robotic fish and the interactive control modes. Finally, a usability study on elementary school students is performed to learn about students' perception of the platform and the various control modes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-96
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015



  • Fish
  • Marine animals
  • Marine technology
  • Mobile robots
  • Robot sensing systems
  • Servomotors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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