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)
bobjengr you're sure right about these bots being designed for a purpose--they're not just R&D "what-if" creations. Although some of those can be pretty cool too. The jellyfish-eating bot *is* pretty gross, but apparently quite effective.
One thing I really like about these nautical robots--the need came first then the robotic system. They all seem to fulfill some requirement(s) for their existence. I specifically like the CoralBot and the DeepTrekker bots. I suppose the robot that chews up jellyfish performs a function but it seems there should be a better way to dispose of (or remove) these things. Excellent post.
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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