Not only spy drones in the sky: Homeland Security has robot spy fish in the water

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: spy drones, spy fish, surveillance

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(NaturalNews) According to U.S. News & World Report, there will be as many as 30,000 drones patrolling American skies in a few years. The Feds claim these unmanned planes will perform border security, disaster relief and, of course, search for supposed terrorists. But they will also be looking down on people and streets to aid police departments. Bottom line: ordinary, law abiding citizens will be in the view of these Big Brother spy drones.

What's more, although a recent, widely circulated photo of a tiny robotic spy designed to look like a mosquito has been shown to probably be fake, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has poured at least $12 million into research since 2006 to create robotic insects, or cybugs, that can quietly spy behind enemy lines -- or, theoretically, on anyone in their own backyard, garden or farm. These projects include cyber roaches being developed at Texas A&M, horned cyber beetles at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley, and cyber moths at MIT and the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research.

If all this Big Brother technology gives you the creeps, we are sorry to tell you; but there's much more to come. In a media statement, the DHS noted that "biologically inspired robotics (biomimetic robotry) is a fairly new science that is gaining steam. There are now robotic lobsters, flies, geckos, moths, clams, dogs, and even a lamprey-like robot, all being designed to perform a variety of missions including surveillance..."

The latest? Robotic spy fish that could turn up one day around your beach house or favorite fishing spot.

The DHS has announced the creation of robotic "perfect" fish, based on tuna, that can swim into constricted and hard-to-reach underwater places to inspect whatever the DHS wants them to. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is funding the development of this unmanned underwater vehicle, called the BIOSwimmer, and photos release by DHS show the robotic creature is already in existence and can swim like a fish, gliding through water.

It was modeled after tuna because, according to the DHS media statement, the tuna has a natural body framework ideal for unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). Tuna are some of "the fastest and most maneuverable creatures on the planet, having extraordinary abilities at both high and low speeds due to their streamlined bodies and a finely tuned muscular/sensory/control system," the statement explains.

Simply put, a natural tuna fish is the right size and shape to solve many of the propulsion and maneuverability problems that have made other attempts at UUVs less than satisfactory to the DHS. The fake fish can swim into, inspect and record data about virtually any kind of aquatic area - even if it's oily and dangerous.

"It's all about distilling the science," David Taylor, program manager for the BIOSwimmer in S&T's Borders and Maritime Security Division, said in the media release."It's called 'biomimetics.' We're using nature as a basis for design and engineering a system that works exceedingly well."

Exactly how does this robot fish operate? Designed for high maneuverability in harsh environments, it has a flexible aft section and sets of pectoral and other fins placed where they'd be on a real tuna's body. Battery-powered, the robotic creature is designed for long-duration operations and has an on-board computer suite for navigation, sensor processing and communications. Internal components and external sensing are designed to allow the fake fish to maneuver effortlessly in challenging environments including constricted spaces and dark, thick fluids.

"It's designed to support a variety of tactical missions and with its interchangeable sensor payloads and reconfigurable Operator Controls, can be optimized on a per-mission basis," Mike Rufo, Director of Boston Engineering Corporation's Advanced Systems Group (ASG) in Waltham, Massachusetts, the company developing the BIOSwimmer for S&T.

Possible translation: The robotic fish can do a whole lot of searching -- and spying-- in many places.


About the author:
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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