Grace 2.0 - the robot fish brainchild of MSU Foundation Professor Xiaobo Tan, of electrical and computer engineering, is featured in an MSU video and a new story in Motherboard.
GRACE is the brainchild of Dr. Xiaobo Tan of Michigan State University, and he’s thinking seriously about developing a powerful, multi-user platform. “We’re not just trying to publish a paper,” said Dr. Tan, “we want to make something really functional.” GRACE's tracking system is built on a standardized acoustic monitoring protocol that is used throughout the Great Lakes, as well as many other marine and freshwater systems to track everything from salmon to bull sharks.
Here’s how it works: Researchers capture fish of interest and tag them with an acoustic pinger. The pinger responds to signals from a transducer, which rovides a rough estimate of location. Add a second transducer andresearchers can triangulate the fish’s location.
This type of system allows researchers to track the movement of tagged fishes as they travel into and out of the lake, and can reveal spawning aggregations, nursery grounds, and population centers. But there are major limitations: the transducers are either static, which limits the range a fish can be tracked; or mounted on a boat, which requires people to continuously monitor the system, limiting the amount of time a fish can be tracked.
An autonomous robotic fish, swimming through the lake, constantly monitoring tagged animals, overcomes both those limitations.
Dr. Tan’s ultimate vision is a swarm of GRACE robots, continuously swimming across Lake Michigan, communicating with each other, and triangulating the location of tagged sea lampreys or other species of interest. It’s an incredibly adaptable mobile platform, one that can support a variety of Great Lakes monitoring programs.