Left, engineers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have built a robot modeled on a sea turtle, shown here in a conceptual drawing, that is capable of underwater autonomous navigation. Right, the robot sea turtle prototype, shown here without its container, is scheduled to make its first dive later this month. (Source: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
Ann, this is great. The number of swimming robots you have described is amazing. This one looks like it could travel large distances, just like real sea turtles. If all these creatures were deployed, we might have to be careful about what we catch when fishing. I am also suprised by the origin of this one and the tuna. Switzerland is a land locked country.
Great article. I would be interested to see how efficient each design is at different speeds. In other words, would the turtle design be more power efficient at lower speeds and the tuna design be more power efficient at higher speeds? I would also be curious to see the comparison of each design under different conditions.
When they say "Autonomous" in reference to robots, to what extent do they mean? I presume that even when they cut the thing loose to swim "autonomously", they still have the ability to take control. Is that the case?
Also, it would seem that autonomous behavior would have to be guided by some set of rules that give the robot some objectives or priorities as to what it is supposed to be doing. Is that the case, or is it just supposed to randomly swim around avoiding obstacles?
Are flippers more efficient than a propellor? Sea creatures use flippers because they are easier to evolve than a bearing mounted shaft, not because they are the better solution.
A device such as this would be semi-autonomous - it would be able to maintain bouyancy and evade obstacles and non-tech-savvy predators by itself, but it needs to be steered to its' target and told what to do when it gets there (either placing or removing limpet mines, I suppose)
Hi ttemple, You are correct in regards to autonomous. The robot can manuever without an ambilical cord of wires. Sensors along with software will guide the robot based on a set of rules allowing it to be used for specific tasks such as tracking oil slicks or other environmental conditions of interest to researchers. Thanks for another great robotics article Ann!
Thanks, Lou and gsmith. There's a surprising number of swimming robots, whether humanoid or animal-oid. Lou, good point about fishing! gsmith, I also noticed some major improvements in the rev 1 and 2 of the naro.
Thank God the Swiss are funding stupid things like this..... Oh crap; I finally read the rest of the first paragraph. Somewhere I knew that the U.S. Govt might do something like automate a fish. Who better than F-ing Homeland Security to manufacture a spy fish. Wait until the Navy finds out that another dept is infringing on their territory. This flapping contraption reminds me of the first attempts to make a flying machine that flapped.
On the other hand may be I could get a grant from Homeland Sec. to develop a flapping airplane.
The Chief of Naval Operations once stated in a speach that the U.S. Navy has three enemies: The Soviet Union, the U.S. Air Force and Hyman Rickover. Now we'd have to add Homeland Sec.
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