MoRitS is a cooperation of

University of Bielefeld

University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld

government-funded by

Ministry of innovation, sciences and research of the State of Nordrhein-Westfalen


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Project 2:

Bio-inspired Electroreceptor Systems for Naviagation in Fluids

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Jacob Engelmann (active sensing, aquatic biology), Bielefeld University
Prof. Dr. Christian Schröder (simulation), FH Bielefeld
Prof. Dr. Axel Schneider (soft- und hardware simulation, biomechatronics), FH Bielefeld



Electric fish have developed specialized organs to generate electric signals, which they use, e.g., for orientation. Thousands of electroreceptors distributed across their bodies enable them to locate nearby objects and analyse their properties via the modification of their self-generated electric fields. Further optimization of the "electric image" is achieved through targeted body movements. The biological experiments conducted in this project aim at exploring the perception of the fish, for example w.r.t. the size, distance or shape of objects, and at exploring the dynamics of sensory signals.

Orientation and navigation using distributed low-range electro-sensors, as done by the fish in their dynamic environments, also happens to be a very interesting target for bio-mechatronical research: future technical applications may cover medical use cases (e.g. sondage), or robotics both under-water and in non-aquatic environments (e.g. object detection for robotic grasping). Therefore, extensive computer simulations of electric fields in liquid solutions help find out how to design and build ensembles of sender and receiver electrodes for "seeing" objects in liquids through changes in electric fields. In parallel to biological experiments and computer simulations, a measuring system is set up for validating the simulated results. The final stage consists of building an integrated technical sensor system.  

photo of an electric fish illustration of the electric image as perceived by the fish Modelling of the fish