The People's Daily (China) reports that the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Beihang) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed an "underwater bionic robotic fish." Apparently these things are big in Asia. A Japanese toy company has a whole line of fish, jellyfish, turtles and an ammonite. An ammonite?fish.jpgAnywho ... at the bottom of the AFP wire story, I noticed a reference to "robotic lamprey parasites." I expected the typical "perfidious CHICOMs" story, but the article was actually all about research by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) into biomechanical robots--including the aforementioned robotic lamprey parasite.Did anyone else know that DARPA was funding an entire biomechanical bestiary, including birds and cockroaches? The FY 2005 Defense Budget contains $ 90 million in unclassified funding for "Biologically Based Materials and Devices," including $ 38 million for "Bioinspired and Bioderived Materials."Some of the fish-related work is being performed at MIT. Insomniacs may wish to peruse A Swimming Robot Actuated by Living Muscle Tissue prepared by Drs. Hugh Herr and Robert G. Dennis for DARPA. Herr and Dennis detail the exploits of one RoboPike, which is the follow-on to-I swear every word of this is true-RoboTuna. I know you dont believe me, so here is the fact sheet.--Jeffrey Lewis

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