Some of the latest nautical robots take a variety of forms. They can look like small boats, tiny four-wheeled vehicles, or realistic fish. We include several professional remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which are getting smaller and more talented. One ship-inspection version was designed by engineering students who invented a novel detachment mechanism that gives the robot the ability to stay attached to structures while passing over concave edges. Others are aimed at collecting ocean data or performing search-and-rescue operations in water.
Nautical robots that look like or emulate fish and turtles so they can interact with living creatures are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their movements. A design from
Sandia Labs will be able to transform itself from a swimming robot, to one that flies through the air, to one that uses wheels on land. Another is an open-source hardware project to develop swarms of tiny, shape-transforming boats that detect and help clean up ocean pollution.
Click on the image below to start the slideshow.
The Little Benthic Crawler (LBC) is SeaBotix's hull-inspection system for extreme environments. While moving freely through water, the mini-ROV (remotely operated vehicle) can perform inspections of harbors and wharfs. Operators can roll the LBC and attach it to a ship's hull via the machine's dual vertical thrusters. Once attached, the robot switches to a four-wheel drive mode for locomotion at speeds up to 100 feet per minute. Its vortex suction device lets the robot stick in place to a ship's hull in currents of up to 5 knots, as well as maintain a stable platform for sensors during hull inspections. This also lets the robot attach to non-ferrous metal surfaces. The LBC measures 21 inches x 19.7 inches x 15.7 inches with crawler skid attached and weighs 61.7 lb.
I agree, Greg. Although FlipperBot is a pure R&D project and aimed more at biosciences than engineering applications, it will be interesting to see how much further the locomotive concept is developed.
Thanks for that interesting input, bobjengr. There are tons of nautical ROVs, and some AUVs, made specifically for oil & gas applications, usually for use in conjunction with divers instead of to replace them. If your sister-in-law's sister's husband isn't using these already, he probably will be soon.
Ann--excellent post. My sister-in-law has a sister whose husband works as a diver in the Gulf of Mexico. His job is to inspect and repair, when necessary, "Texas Towers". In talking with him on several occasions, the risks involved are significant and very dependent upon weather conditions and water turbulence in the Gulf. They were extremely busy as a result of the BP spill. Every tower within a certain radius of the spill had to be inspected. I have sent him this link. It's very timely and very informative. It's amazing to me the marvelous uses robotic systems have found and the work they are doing. Great post.
Ok. I'm glad to know my thinking was not off by submitting the OpenRov link. I should have known you covered it in a previous article: your work is wonderful to read and quite informative. Keep up the Great Work!!!
Its amazing to see the numerous applications robots are being used to extend human capabilities. The slide deck was fascinating to view. Its quite interesting to see the varous designs and functions used to explore our waters for solutions like oil spills. Besides professional scientists and engineers developing underwater robots, the Maker community are contributing to this exploration activity. There is an open source kit called "OpenRov" that allow individuals to explore the waters using a DIY kit. A byline from their website states the purpose of the project and the kit below.
"OpenROV is a DIY community centered around underwater robots for exploration & adventure. We're a group of amateur and professional ROV builders and operators from over 50 countries who have a passion for exploring the deep."
On the OpenRov website you'll find documentation, an acitve forum, a blog, and a video showing the OpenRov in action.
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
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