The operation of autonomous underwater vehicles is often hindered by their battery capacity, limiting the duration of its use. Here, we propose an integrated solution for autonomous charging of a robotic fish via direct contact through a novel claw mechanism for docking guidance. To assist the robotic fish in the docking process, the system incorporates a charging station designed with form-fit claws. A controller is designed to monitor the battery level of the robotic fish during free swimming and coordinate the docking process with respect to the maneuvers of both the robot and form-fit claws. Upon recognizing a low battery level, the controller commands the robotic fish to begin the docking process, and video feedback from an overhead camera is used to inform the autonomous navigation toward the charging station. After reaching a battery level threshold, the robotic fish is then released back in the water and returns to free swimming until the battery is discharged again. Through a series of experiments, we demonstrate the possibility of prolonged operation, consisting of repeated cycles of autonomous charging. Our proposed charging method enables prolonged autonomous swimming with minimal human supervision, opening the door for new, transformative applications of robotic fish in laboratory research and field deployment.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.