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This paper presents a project that aims at fabricating a biologically inspired robotic fish. The robotic fish is designed to be capable of propelling itself through oscillations of a flexible caudal fin, like a real underwater fish. In this paper, we describe the design features that underlie the operation of the robotic fish. These features include a unique actuator referred to as electrostatic film motor and a light and flexible power transmission system. The electrostatic film motor is made of two pieces of flexible printed circuit film and can be utilized as a new-type artificial muscle. The power transmission system permits reciprocating power to be converted to periodic oscillations and distributed to the caudal fin. Based on several design considerations inspired by biological concepts, we propose several open-loop swimming control strategies for the constructed robotic fish to accomplish fish-like motion (i.e., cruising, turning, and diving). Experiments of Seidengyo I, the first prototype of our electrostatic fish family, are carried out to confirm the validity of the original design and control. We further design Seidengyo II to improve on Seidengyo I and show the results of the experiments.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2008