This paper introduces the near-field detection system of an underwater robot based on the fish lateral line. Inspired by the perception mechanism of fish’s lateral line, the aim is to add near-field detection functionality to an underwater vehicle. To mimic the fish’s lateral line, an array of pressure sensors is developed and installed on the surface of the underwater vehicle. A vibrating sphere is simulated as an underwater pressure source, and the moving mechanism is built to drive the sphere to vibrate at a certain frequency near the lateral line. The calculation of the near-field pressure generated by the vibrating sphere is derived by linearizing the kinematics and dynamics conditions of the free surface wave equation. Structurally, the geometry shape of the detection system is printed by a 3D printer. The pressure data are sent to the computer and analyzed immediately to obtain information of the pressure source. Through the experiment, the variation law of the pressure is generated when the source vibrates near the body, and is consistent with the simulation results of the derived pressure calculation formula. It is found that the direction of the near-field pressure source can distinguished. The pressure amplitude of the sampled signals are extracted to be prepared for the next step to estimate the vertical distance between the center of the pressure source and the lateral line.
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