Researchers Develop Flow Sensors Based on Blind Fish Hair Structures

A blind fish that has evolved a unique technique for sensing motion may inspire a new generation of sensors that perform better than current active sonar.

Although members of the fish species Astyanax fasciatus cannot see, they sense their environment and the movement of water around them with gel-covered hairs that extend from their bodies. Their ability to detect underwater objects and navigate through their lightless environment inspired a group of researchers to mimic the hairs of these blind cavefish in the laboratory.

While the fish use these hairs to detect obstacles, avoid predators and localize prey, researchers believe the engineered sensors they are developing could have a variety of underwater applications, such as port security, surveillance, early tsunami detection, autonomous oil rig inspection, autonomous underwater vehicle navigation, and marine research.