Engineers often draw inspiration from nature. For example, several recently developed robots accurately imitate various aspects of animal systems. Yet, the relationship between engineering and nature has largely been one-directional: engineers borrow ideas from nature to build more efficient and better performing devices for use in human-centered applications. In this talk, we explore “the other direction”, by discussing the possibility of influencing the collective behavior of animals using robots to ultimately guide wildlife to safety or learn more about animal interactions. We focus on fish, and we propose the use of a biologically-inspired robotic fish to modulate their behavior.
Maurizio Porfiri was born in Rome (Italy) and now happily resides in Brooklyn (New York). He received M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech; a “Laurea” in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and the University of Toulon (dual degree program). Since 2006, he has been a member of the faculty of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, where he is currently a Professor. His work is in the area of dynamical systems, specifically focusing on interdisciplinary underwater applications. He is the author of more than 150 journal publications, and his research has been featured in numerous major media outlets, including CNN, Discovery Channel, and NPR. He has received the National Science Foundation CAREER award, the Outstanding Young Alumnus award from the College of Engineering of Virginia Tech, the ASME Gary Anderson Early Achievement Award, and the ASME DSCD Young Investigator Award; and has been named to the Popular Science “Brilliant 10” list for young scientists as the “Water Wizard”.