Our latest crop of nautical robots are a talented lot. They include a new and growing category of recreational, as well as professional, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). There's even an open-source version: build your own ROV from scratch or from a kit. Other robots designed to operate on or in water look like or emulate the movements of fish, turtles, or octopus. Some are designed to interact with living creatures or other robots.
Many typical nautical robots are underwater unmanned vehicles (UUVs), or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). Robots made to work in water are usually designed to be either remote-controlled or autonomous, and some can even switch from one mode to another. Some models can do a number of different types of tasks, depending on their payloads. One is a robotic boat. Another was designed for only one purpose: locating and eliminating jellyfish, which have become a dangerous and expensive pest in offshore waters around Korea.
Click on the Coralbot below to start the slideshow.
The Coralbot project underway at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland aims at designing an underwater robot that can rebuild the world's damaged coral reefs. Left on their own, coral reef regrowth and regeneration is a very slow process, partly because many pieces get scattered far apart. A swarm of Coralbots will find and collect pieces of living coral and bring them back together to speed regrowth efforts. This help is especially needed right after hurricanes or destructive fishing practices like bottom-trawling. Humans have done this in the past, but this takes time and there's a lot of acreage to cover. Marine biologists, computer scientists, and robotics engineers at the University's Ocean Systems Laboratory are now working on the Nessie 4 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), their latest prototype, which has passed some field tests in open water. (Source: Heriot-Watt University)
The last robot in the slideshow is the one that has copied the tutrtle's method of propulsion, which is cool. Considering that turtles can move a lot faster in the water than on land, and that they make their escape from sunning on logs to just "plop" into the water in a real hurry. Those robots could probably get past a defense system being mistaken for turtles. So copying nature does have advantages.
And the jellyfish grinders: Those toxic beasts reproduce fast enough that they would never be endangered, and probably few would miss them if they went extinct. The fact is that we don't know of any real benefit that they provide, except for keeping all the babes on the beach i that one area of Australia. And it seems that the various things that eat them also eat a lot of other things as well. So how about aquatic robots to herd tha salmon around to eat up the jellyfish? The problem is, "how do you herd salmon"?
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