An innovative, eel-like robot developed by engineers and marine biologists at the University of California can swim silently in salt water without an electric motor. Instead, the robot uses artificial muscles filled with water to propel itself. The foot-long robot, which is connected to an electronics board that remains on the surface, is also virtually transparent.
The team, which includes researchers from UC San Diego and UC Berkeley, details their work in the April 25 issue of Science Robotics. Researchers say the bot is an important step toward a future when soft robots can swim in the ocean alongside fish and invertebrates without disturbing or harming them. Today, most underwater vehicles designed to observe marine life are rigid and submarine-like and powered by electric motors with noisy propellers.
“Instead of propellers, our robot uses soft artificial muscles to move like an eel underwater without making any sound,” said Caleb Christianson, a Ph.D. student at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.
One key innovation was using the salt water in which the robot swims to help generate the electrical forces that propel it. The bot is equipped with cables that apply voltage to both the salt water surrounding it and to pouches of water inside of its artificial muscles. The robot’s electronics then deliver negative charges in the water just outside of the robot and positive charges inside of the robot that activate the muscles. The electrical charges cause the muscles to bend, generating the robot’s undulating swimming motion. The charges are located just outside the robot’s surface and carry very little current so they are safe for nearby marine life.
“Our biggest breakthrough was the idea of using the environment as part of our design,” said Michael T. Tolley, the paper’s corresponding author and a professor of mechanical engineering at the Jacobs School at UC San Diego. “There will be more steps to creating an efficient, practical, untethered eel robot, but at this point we have proven that it is possible.”
Previously, other research groups had developed robots with similar technology. But to power these robots, engineers were using materials that need to be held in constant tension inside semi-rigid frames. The Science Robotics study shows that the frames are not necessary.
“This is in a way the softest robot to be developed for underwater exploration,” Tolley said.
The robot was tested inside salt-water tanks filled with jelly fish, coral and fish at the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and in Tolley’s lab.
The conductive chambers inside the robot’s artificial muscles can be loaded with fluorescent dye (as shown in the video accompanying the study and this release). In the future, the fluorescence could be used as a kind of signaling system.
Next steps also include improving the robot’s reliability and its geometry. Researchers need to improve ballast, equipping the robot with weights so that it can dive deeper. For now, engineers have improvised ballast weights with a range of objects, such as magnets. In future work, researchers envision building a head for their eel robot to house a suite of sensors.
The Latest on: Underwater robot
via Google News
The Latest on: Underwater robot
- Russia releases FLEET KILLER underwater ROBOT NUKE TORPEDO 'Poseidon' on February 20, 2019 at 8:44 am
The video depicts the moment the mega-torpedo bursts forth from its container underwater and erupts through the water. The Poseidon, previously known by its code name Status-6, is part of Russia’s fut... […]
- Boaty McBoatface Gears Up for Epic Swim Across the Arctic on February 20, 2019 at 4:00 am
But the autonomous underwater vehicle and darling of the internet is headed to greater things: embarking on the longest journey of an AUV by far, with an uninterrupted, roughly 2,000-mile crossing of ... […]
- Sonardyne, Sintef Ocean trial acoustic tracking of underwater robotics on February 20, 2019 at 2:03 am
An acoustic positioning system has been developed to track underwater robots as they move through fish pens. Norwegian research institute SINTEF Ocean and marine resource technology company Sonardyne ... […]
- Kraken Robotics Nets Ocean Infinity Deal on February 19, 2019 at 10:15 pm
According to a press note from the provider of software-centric sensors and underwater robotic systems, product delivery is expected during Q1 and Q2, 2019. This is the second set of purchase orders f... […]
- GNS Science use robotic underwater vehicle to research slow slip earthquakes on February 19, 2019 at 3:08 pm
A remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) has been used in research on the Hikurangi subduction zone for the first time - installing instruments on the seafloor, collecting samples and taking footage of diver... […]
- New-and-improved snaky robot headed for sea trials on February 19, 2019 at 1:29 pm
It was a couple of years ago that we first heard about the Eelume, an eel-like robot designed to perform underwater maintenance and inspections. Well, the latest version of the device, known as ... […]
- Startup Says Robot Divers Can Help Remove Urchins, Restore Oceans on February 19, 2019 at 9:48 am
Marauder Robotics, a tech startup based in Atlanta, Georgia, is developing an integrated, autonomous underwater robot predator. Sea urchins beware. The startup is working to restore the loss of more t... […]
- Shape-Morphing Joints Allow These Small Robots to Ace Obstacles on February 19, 2019 at 5:50 am
The robots can operate in environments, from on land, to air, to underwater. Switching different leg positions, the robots are designed to climb over obstacles, or lower themselves under obstacles. "A... […]
- 'Jason' the underwater robot makes first trip to the Hikurangi Subduction Zone on February 18, 2019 at 8:39 pm
An underwater robot is being used to study the Hikurangi subduction zone off the east coast of New Zealand - and finding some interesting forms of life along the way. East Coast Labs said today that t... […]
via Bing News