Towards a biorobotic electrosensory system

Malcolm A. Maciver, Mark E. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Weakly electric fish hunt and navigate without visual cues by sensing perturbations of a self-generated electric field. The ability to detect, characterize and localize objects using electric fields is called electrolocation. This capability could be beneficial for underwater robots sent to explore dark aquatic environments, from those on Earth to those that might exist on other planets and moons such as Europa. Here we describe initial progress on the development of an artificial sensor array that could provide electrosensory capabilities to a submarine robotic explorer. The design of the sensor array and the associated signal processing algorithms are inspired by ongoing empirical and theoretical studies of signal detection, estimation, and active sensor positioning in weakly electric fish as they hunt for small prey. Here we describe a simple test setup consisting of a small electrosensory array and a robotic platform for controlling the movement of an electrolocation target. This system allows us to acquire and analyze electrosensory signals similar to those obtained a weakly electric fish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-266
Number of pages4
JournalAutonomous Robots
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2001


  • Biomimetic
  • Biomorphic
  • Biorobotics
  • Biosensor
  • Computational neuroethology
  • Electrolocation
  • Electroreceptor
  • Electrosensory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'Towards a biorobotic electrosensory system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this