The 'BIOSwimmer' robot sports features like the real-life fish with replicated fins and a flexible tail to pull off quick manoeuvres.
US Homeland Security funded the robot made by the Boston Engineering Corporation in Waltham, Massachusetts with an eye towards missions such as exploring the flooded areas of ships, inspecting oil tankers or patrolling US harbours to watch out for suspicious activity, website TechNewsDaily reported.
"It's called 'biomimetics'. We're using nature as a basis for design and engineering a system that works exceedingly well," said David Taylor, program manager for the BIOSwimmer at the US Department of Homeland Security.
The robot, which is based on the tuna's sleek, flexible shape, would be able to squeeze into tight spaces such as the flooded bilges and tanks of ship interiors and fit in well with surrounding marine life.
Humans can control BIOSwimmer's activities through a laptop, but the unmanned underwater vehicle also carries its own computer for navigation, processing sensor data and communications with the home base.