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The Singing FishFrom “How Singing Fish Work”

You’ve probably seen one at a store in the mall, at the flea market or on television. Looking deceptively like a normal stuffed fish mounted on a plaque, it is actually a robot that begins to sing and move when someone walks up to it. As the fish swings his head out from the plaque, he lip-syncs to a prerecorded 30-second clip of a popular song or spits out a savvy one-liner.

The singing fish is actually a very simple robot. It has its own power supply, it senses its environment and acts autonomously on what it senses, it moves in fairly complex patterns, and it vocalizes—in other words, it meets all of the qualifications of a robot!

The fish’s skeleton has three moving parts: The tail, which flaps back and forth; the body, which swings out and away from the plaque; and the mouth, which moves up and down to simulate singing.

When power is supplied to the motor, the lower jaw opens. As soon as the motor stops, a spring causes the jaw to close. By starting and stopping the motor repeatedly, the jaw opens and shuts, making it appear as if the fish is singing. All three of the motors work in this way—applying power to them moves the associated body part in one direction, and the spring moves it back.
 

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Rensselaer Magazine: June 2002
President's View Your Mail From the Archives Hawk Talk Class Notes Features
Front Page At Rensselaer Milestones
In Memoriam Making a Difference Staying Connected
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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Marketing and Media Relations.

 
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