The Seal Whiskerers: Navy Looks to Sea Life for New Ships | Military.com: The U.S. Navy is enlisting the help of seals — but not the kind of highly trained special operatives with whom it usually associates.
Real seals, specifically their whiskers, may be the key to a new way for ships and underwater vehicles to sense their environment, scientists think.
When a fish swims by, a hungry seal senses the wake with its whiskers. It can tell characteristics of the fish, such as shape and size, and track the location even when it's murky or dark.
Despite the adorable possibilities, scientists aren't looking to outfit ships and vehicles with whiskers. They're studying how the whiskers function to learn how to reverse-engineer the system. The science could be applied to the development of a future sensor.
"If we want to design the best systems, it makes sense to take advantage of millions of years of work that nature has done for us," said Christin Murphy, a marine mammal biologist.
The research is taking place at the Newport division of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.
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