Why rewrite something when nature, over billions of years of evolution, has done it for us and gives us solutions literally “on the tray”? This assumption was probably made by Pliant Energy Systems, which developed its Velox robot based on the fins of sea creatures.
Velox is one of the stranger robots. All thanks to its fins
The premise of the company was that the propellers are not as efficient as the fins of sea creatures, and indeed it turned out to be so. Unlike propellers, the fins can extend around the sea creature, which in this case is a robot, which translates into a more magnificent propulsion without the need for a large, protruding propeller that could be damaged by an impact on the seabed. The fins are also flexible in themselves, so there is a lower risk of damaging them when you hit them.
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Benjamin Pietro Filardo, the founder of Pliant Energy Systems, decided to use the potential of this approach to robot design. In an interview with The Economist explained how exactly he designs his Velox robots, which are powered by flexible fin-like materials. Thanks to them, Velox produces about three times more thrust per unit of energy than the average propeller of a small boat, and in addition, it can not only swim but also come ashore using its fins in the form of robotic legs.
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The potential in this approach was even convinced by the Office of Naval Research, the American naval research agency that ordered C-Ray from Pliant Energy Systems. It will be a robotic equivalent of the Velox, but lighter, faster and operates without a wired connection. This one has the potential to go into service by clearing mines, monitoring and exploring the depths of the sea, but there is a long, but a long way to go.