Life Of Navin

Random Musings, Random Bullshit.


Robos With Gills Set to Save Oceans!!

Ever heard of Bio-mechanics?? This neo-scientific field, which combines Biology and Physics, has come up with some seriously cool and utterly useful inventions over the past few years. In another path-breaker, scientists at the University of Washington have developed robotic fish, which they claim will help track oil spills and wildlife such as whales and seals in our oceans!!

Propelled by a servo-actuated two-link tail and flapping pectoral fins, this new breed of robotic fish (robofish) have been programmed to swim in schools. By mimicking a fish's natural propulsion mechanics these underwater vehicles (sorry if that offends anyone) are able to swim in any direction, turn, and even swim backwards!! Currently, the university is testing these vehicles in an indoor freshwater tank equipped with a four-camera tracking system to supplement data collected by onboard sensors.

Below is a video they released showing the robofish organize into a school. It’s the first time I’m embedding a video in this blog, so please forgive me in case it doesn’t work!!

You can see the video here as well

One of the challenges they face is to properly coordinate these fish so that they work together. Radio signals, which attenuate underwater, are unsuitable, but are obviously better than cables (due to mobility issues) or ‘surface updates’ (in which the robofish surfaces periodically to receive orders from a control server.)

These fish are highly independent. They control and coordinate their own actions using an onboard microprocessor, all the while collecting data and computing control commands. They are equipped with a pressure sensor for gauging depth, and a 3D compass. All these instruments are powered by NiMH rechargeable batteries When they do need to communicate with one another, they use sonar-like "pings" from acoustic modems.

The US Military too wants to fund its own robofish programme that would use cameras to gather data and then share the data through SONAR. Sort of like an autonomous submarine. India too is looking into this new field and is planning to set up a military robotics section to help tackle issues in the Indian Ocean, and for predicting earthquakes. Lets just hope that we can get our act together soon enough to predict the next big earthquake.

With a group of vehicles you can get more data collection at the same time than with just one. You get better spatial distribution and cover more area -- Kristi Morgansen, Underwater roboticist



Finally after all these years, here's to the beginning of what was there, what is there and hopefully what will remain!! So here are my thoughts & words -Online!!

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