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12/19/2012

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    A sensor system inspired by the blind cave fish could allow autonomous underwater vehicles to navigate more accurately while also eliminating the sonar "pings" that can disturb aquatic animals.
    The blind cave fish navigates its terrain by detecting changes in water pressure with a row of hair cells down either side of its body. The new system will feature an array of two rows of five sensors each measuring only 1.8 x 1.8 mm. Each sensor will contain a hydrogel surrounding a microscopic sensory pillar that will flex with changes in water pressure, much like the hairs of the cave fish. When combined with a computer vision system, the sensor array will be able to create 3D images of nearby objects and map the area, allowing the AUV to navigate even in murky water.
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