A robotic fish is capable of leading a school of real fish, researchers have found.
In nature fish at the front of a school beat their tails at a greater frequency than those who gather in their wake, ScienceDaily reported.
Researchers from Polytechnic Institute of New York University found their biometric robotic fish assumed a leadership role in a school of real fish by mimicking the fast tail propulsion of a fish at the front of the pack.
Experiments with golden shiners found the follower fish appeared to fall in line because of the energy savings generated by slower tail propulsion, ScienceDaily reported.
"These experiments may open up new channels for us to explore the possibilities for robotic interactions with live animals -- an area that is largely untapped," researcher and NYU-Poly associate professor of mechanical engineering Maurizio Porfiri told ScienceDaily.
The research could one day be used to help steer fish away from an oil spill or other disaster area, Pofriri said.
The findings were published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.