The world around us is getting more high-tech, more automated. Smarter, you might say.

But a lot of the smart technology we’re developing is actually modeled on the already very intelligent non-tech world.

Like a new set of robotic fish that synchronize their movements in the water like an actual school of fish.

It’s called Blueswarm, and in the hull of each robot fish there are four fins, two cameras, a battery, a Raspberry Pi computer and three blue LED lights.

When the fish are in the water, they use their cameras to spot the others’ lights, and then calculate how to swim together without colliding.

That’s more or less how schools of actual fish work: rather than having a leader direct traffic, the fish all make their own individual decisions on movement based on what they see the others doing.

That’s known as “implicit coordination,” and it’s a skill that self-driving cars, among other technologies, could use to not only keep people safe on the roads, but possibly to move traffic in the most efficient way possible.

There are other possible benefits, too: the Blueswarm team was able to conduct a simulated rescue mission underwater, with the robot fish spreading out to search for their target, and then honing in on it as a group after it was located by a single fish.

Real search and rescue missions in OR out of water could be conducted that way someday.

Whatever they bring, one thing’s for sure: don’t try to catch the robot fish. I don’t think they’re designed to be tasty.

(And while we’re at it: scientists, please also develop another kind of robot fish. I’d like a computerized Abe Vigoda.)


Smart tech often takes its cues from nature, and so do perfume makers, adding the essence of this flower or that to their creations.

But this is a little different: a new project called GLYPHS is creating perfumes based on typography.

They’ve come up with three scents so far, for the first three letters of the alphabet.

Each one comes with information about the history of that letter, and a rollerball, so you can write with the fragrance.

No Comic Sans-scented perfume yet, though.

Meet Blueswarm, a Smart School of Robotic Fish (IEEE Spectrum)

Love typography? Now you can smell like it! (Creative Boom)

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Robot fish photo via Self-organizing Systems Research Group, Harvard