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TECHNOLOGY

Robotic fish make aquarium debut

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The robotic fish took three years to create.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The three newest inhabitants at the London Aquarium move like all others in nearby tanks, but the brightly colored fish are robots.

Created by robotics experts from Essex University, east of London, the creatures move around the tank like real fish, but unlike previous attempts at robotic fish, these are not pre-programmed.

Instead, they have sensor-based controls, meaning they move around the tank, avoiding objects and other fish, and reacting to their environment as a real fish would.

Professor Huosheng Hu, of the university's computer science department, said the aim of creating the fish and having them on display in a public place was to increase awareness about robots' capabilities.

He said the robotic fish, which took three years to create, could also be used in the ocean.

"This work has many real-world applications including seabed exploration, detecting leaks in oil pipelines, mine countermeasures, and improving the performance of underwater vehicles," he said.

Hu and his team wanted to create the ultimate fish: Aiming to emulate the speed of tuna, acceleration of a pike, and the navigating skills of an eel.

They worked with the aquarium's marine experts who offered advice about behavior and movement of a wide variety of fish species.

London Aquarium director Foster Archer said he expected the biologically inspired fish to be popular with visitors.

"Our robotic fish are really wonderful to look at and very entertaining. It's amazing how beautiful and graceful their movements are."

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