Active Research Projects

The research projects listed below are active and ongoing. Funding is provided by MIT Sea Grant through an annual, competitive RFP. Click on a project title for more information, or the name of a principal investigator for his/her contact information. Basic facts on the past 40 years of funded projects can be discovered through the "Search All Projects" button to the right. For more detailed information on Sea Grant projects, send email to

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Marine Center for Development of Biomimetic Underwater Sensors

Harbor seal

Michael Triantafyllou, MIT Sea Grant

Project Number:2013-R/RT-2/RCM-34

Abstract: This Marine Center will focus on developing a new generation of biomimetic pressure and flow sensors for underwater use, beginning with a velocity sensor that emulates the outstanding sensitivity of the whiskers of harbor seals. The hydrodynamic mechanisms and the structure of the whiskers that seals use to “see” and navigate in dark waters has not been explained or exploited. Having studied these structures, we will design velocity sensors able to detect minute flow disturbances. These will then be combined with MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems) based pressure sensors. These new sensors will allow underwater robots and vessels to detect obstacles at very low power consumption with the sensitivity of a live animal.

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