An Autonomous Charging System for a Robotic Fish

Paul Phamduy, Jayhwan Cheong, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of autonomous underwater vehicles is often hampered by stringent power constraints that limit the duration of their deployment. Here, we present a novel autonomous underwater charging system for robotic fish. The system features a charging station designed with form-fit claws to facilitate the robotic fish docking. A controller is implemented externally to monitor the battery level of the robotic fish, swimming autonomously in two dimensions. When the battery level is low, the controller commands the robotic fish to approach the charging station using video feedback from an overhead camera. The approach angle of the robotic fish to the charging station is optimized through a series of experiments, assessing the success of both docking and electrical contact, as well as the time to approach the charging station. To demonstrate the feasibility of the autonomous charging system, the robotic fish is monitored as it cycles through periods of charging and discharging while swimming in the tank. The proposed system is expected to find application in laboratory and educational settings, where robotic fish should operate with minimal supervision and assistance from technical staff over extended time periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7494612
Pages (from-to)2953-2963
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2016


  • Autonomous charging
  • biologically inspired robots
  • docking
  • educational robotics
  • vision-based control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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