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Elongate fishes have evolved hundreds of times throughout the tree of life. They occupy many aquatic environments, from streams and ponds to the deepest parts of the ocean. Due to their long body and numerous vertebrae, they are also highly flexible animals, which makes them useful as bioinspiration for designs in the field of soft robotics. We present a biodegradable soft robot prototype, inspired by elongate fishes. The robot's body is primarily composed of a silk hydrogel with embedded fibers to mimic the structure of natural fish skin. When actuated at the front, the flexible gel prototype mimics the undulatory gait of elongate fishes such as eels. Our goal is to use this prototype as a tool to understand the functional consequences of the fibers and other aspects of elongate body morphology in fishes, and to help develop robotic devices for exploring environments previously inaccessible to humans.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in 2018 IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft). This article may not exactly replicate the final published version. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at


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