Controlling a robotic fish with a smart phone

Nicole Abaid, Jeffrey Bernhardt, Jared Alan Frank, Vikram Kapila, Daniel Kimani, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, mobile devices such as Apple's iDevices have acquired the ability to host a variety of functions beyond merely initiating and receiving telephone calls. These devices have great potential for educational applications, especially when integrated with disparate technologies, such as environmental sensors, microscopes, and robotics. In this work, we present the development of an iDevice application and communication hardware for interacting with a miniature robotic fish. The application includes a user interface for controlling the robot's motion, a detailed tutorial featuring an animated fish, and a link to information about scientific research using the robot. This platform has been field-tested with children in a broad age range and refined based on their feedback. The application has been found to be significantly easier to use than a traditional joystick controller by a survey of middle school children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-496
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Communication
  • Educational technology
  • Mobile robots
  • Underwater vehicles
  • User interfaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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