(IEEE.Spectrum) — The United Kingdom’s Bristol Robotics Laboratory is developing a robot called Row-bot that can swim around, harvesting energy directly from the water using a microbial fuel cell as an artificial stomach. Row-bot is very efficient, modeled on a water beetle. It has two side paddles to move, little floaty feeties to keep it from drowning, and a microbial fuel cell in its tummy. Microbial Fuel Cells generate electricity by eating “raw organic biomass in the water” and discharging electrons.
As long as the water has food products for the microbes, they’ll keep giving back electrons that can be used to power the robot. MFCs work in all kinds of water, including fresh water in rivers and lakes, seawater, and even waste water, and they clean the water as they go, another benefit to the technology.
Tags: autonomous organism, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, microbial fuel cells, Row-Bot