Several years ago, a joint team from Canada’s York, McGill and Dalhousie universities created AQUA, an underwater swimming robot.
AQUA has six flippers, three on each side, and uses them to paddle through the water – it’s somewhat reminiscent of a platypus, albeit a six-legged one. Using a different set of appendages, it can even swim underwater, then proceed to sort of slap its way onto and across dry land. All of this is very cool in and of itself, but the little robot now has a new ability: it can receive commands visually underwater, thus freeing it from cumbersome umbilical cords.
A team from York’s Centre for Vision Research created a computerized controller, the AQUATablet, that is watertight down to 60 feet (18.29 meters). Divers enter commands for the robot into the tablet-style device, using toggle switches and onscreen prompts. Those commands appear as barcode-like tags on its screen. The screen is then shown to the robot, which reads the tags with its onboard front camera, then proceeds to carry out the commands.
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