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Robot sea turtle takes first dip in the pool

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November 26, 2012

A robot sea turtle built to explore fin-based propulsion takes its first dip in the pool

A robot sea turtle built to explore fin-based propulsion takes its first dip in the pool

Image Gallery (9 images)

In early October we took a look at the naro - tartaruga, a biomimetic robot based on sea turtles being built by researchers at ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). It's a research platform that tests the concept of fin propulsion, and now we have a video of its first swim, which is surprisingly life-like.

The naro - tartaruga measures a full meter (3.3 feet) in length and weighs 75 kg (165 lbs). It is estimated to swim at speeds up to 7.2 km/h (4.4 mph) with a diving depth of 100 meters (328 feet). For comparison, the green sea turtle usually swims at 2.5 – 3 km/h (1.6 – 1.9 mph) in shallow waters. Sadly, all seven species of sea turtles are considered either "endangered" or "critically endangered."

Currently the naro - tartaruga still lacks a proper shell, which will protect its internal electronics and streamline its shape, possibly reducing drag. In the future, the robot will serve as a vessel for studying autonomous underwater navigation, with interchangeable heads mounted with various sensors. Thanks to its fin-based locomotion, which is less noisy than using propellers, and its natural appearance, a robot like this one would be ideal for studying underwater ecosystems like coral reefs, which are also under serious threat.

The same team is responsible for a tuna fish-like robot simply called the naro (short for nautical robot), which propels itself primarily with its tail fin. Another, more recent example of fin-based propulsion is the Shoal Consortium's robo-fish, which they hope will lead to autonomous underwater sensor networks.

You can see naro - tartaruga take to the pool in the video below.

Source: ETH Zurich Autonomous Systems Lab

About the Author
Jason Falconer Jason is a freelance writer based in central Canada with a background in computer graphics. He has written about hundreds of humanoid robots on his website Plastic Pals and is an avid gamer with an unsightly collection of retro consoles, cartridges, and controllers.   All articles by Jason Falconer
1 Comment

Ideal for mapping surveys, exploring coral reefs, harbor security, mount live feed Video for shoreside access.

Stephen N Russell
27th November, 2012 @ 06:20 pm PST
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