Meeting Abstract

40.2  Saturday, Jan. 5  BassBot: A Biorobotic Model of the Teleost Feeding System KENALEY, C. P.*; LAUDER, G. V.; Harvard University; Harvard University

Comparative morphologists have studied aquatic prey capture in fishes for nearly two centuries. Although current approaches will continue to yield fruitful insights into the relationships between form, function, and performance, studies of live fishes are limited in their ability to isolate and manipulate individual variables. Biorobotic models of vertebrate systems have risen to the fore as valuable and transformative tools that permit investigators to study comparative biomechanics in entirely new ways. Here we present a biorobotic model of the teleost feeding system based on the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), a combination RAM-suction feeder. “BassBot” incorporates a three-dimensional armature of the bass head fabricated from poly(methyl methacrylate) plastic. The hard anatomy of the model represents the functional units of the teleost head including the neurocranium, maxillary apparatus, lower jaw, hyoid, suspensorium, and opercular apparatus, with an overlay of skin cut from ultra-thin latex. Constrained by the properties and positions of joints found in the bass skull and powered by DC linear motors representing the levator operculi, adductor mandibulae, hypaxial, and epaxial muscles, the three-dimensional kinematic profiles of these functional units are precisely controlled. Programing of linear motors permits repeatable and precise simulation of behaviors (e.g., hyoid depression and lateral expansion of the suspensoria). We also present preliminary results of BassBot feeding experiments that focus on kinematic profiles and suction performance. These results demonstrate a relatively accurate match between feeding in BassBot and live bass and illustrate the promise that robotic models have in understanding the relationship between morphology and performance in fish feeding systems.