Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 11:05 UK

Robot fish could prevent crashes


Beating traffic jams 'like a fish'

Robots that mimic the behaviour of fish have been developed by Japanese car firm Nissan, who believe the technique can be used in crash avoidance systems.

The tiny robots, called Eporo, can move in a fleet without bumping into their travelling companions.

It is the second time the firm has looked to the animal kingdom for inspiration for its designs.

Last year, the manufacturer unveiled its BR23C robot, which was modelled on the behaviour of bumblebees.

The bee also displays anti-collision behaviour but tends to fly solo.

The new three-wheeled robot, which will be shown off at Japanese design fair Ceatec on 6 October, is designed to travel in a group of up to seven vehicles.

Each uses a laser range-finder to measure the distance between obstacle.

The data is constantly shared between peers via radio, allowing the group to travel as a "shoal" without bumping into each other.

The technique allows the cars to travel side-by-side or quickly switch direction as a group.

"We, in a motorised world, have a lot to learn from the behaviour of a school of fish in terms of each fish's degree of freedom and safety," said Toshiyuki Andou, principal engineer of the project.

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