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— Robotics

Shoal's robot fish could be the first line of defense against water pollution

A five foot long (1.5 meter) robo-fish prototype that monitors oxygen levels and salinity is currently being tested in waters north of Spain as part of the EU-funded Shoal Consortium project. If the project proves successful, teams of autonomous robot fish could be patrolling ports, harbors, and estuaries for telltale signs of pollutants in the next few years. Read More
— Robotics

BIOSwimmer robot mimics the humble tuna fish

Scientists involved in robotics research are increasingly looking toward biological systems for solutions to specific challenges, and when one considers that nature has been solving problems for rather a lot longer than we humans have, this makes sense. Such is the reasoning behind BIOSwimmer: an underwater surveillance robot created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S and T) that takes its design cues from the tuna fish. Read More
— Marine

Homeland Security's PLUTO sub designed to imitate narco subs

When someone mentions drug running, most people probably picture a person coming through an airport carrying a suitcase with a false bottom or with balloons stuffed up their nether regions. We don’t usually imagine things like submarines. Unfortunately, the South American drug cartels not only imagine them, but they build and operate them. To help combat these underwater smugglers, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S and T) is operating their own drug-running submarine called PLUTO to develop and test a new generation of detection equipment. Read More
— Robotics

Underwater robots being developed to save damaged coral reefs

Scotland may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of coral reefs, but the deep waters west of the nation are indeed home to reefs not unlike those found in the tropics. Unfortunately, a commercial fishing technique known as bottom trawling regularly damages that coral, putting the reefs at risk. Now, scientists are working on a possible solution to the problem – swarms of small, autonomous coral-fixing robots. Read More
— Science

Optical communications system and autonomous microscope to boost underwater research

It would definitely be an understatement to say that underwater research has its technical challenges. Remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) must be tethered to surface support vessels with unwieldy communications cables, deep-sea water samples have to be hauled to the surface for analysis ... or do they? Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution recently announced that it has partnered with two private companies, to market a couple of technologies that address both of those situations. Read More
— Robotics

Robotic ray could end up flapping through an ocean near you

Sometime in the future, perhaps sometime soon, the robotic jellyfish, octopi and fish cruising the world’s oceans may have to make way for one other companion – the robotic ray. A team led by University of Virginia engineering professor Hilary Bart-Smith has created such a “creature,” in hopes that its autonomously-operated descendants may someday help us humans explore and study the sea, or possibly perform surveillance for the military. Read More
— Mobile Technology

The iGills SE-35 transforms your iPhone into a dive computer

The iGills SE-35 is not just another waterproof case for the iPhone, but instead promises to turn Apple’s mobile device into a fully-featured dive computer. The waterproof scuba diving case protects the iPhone down to depths of 130 feet (40 meters) and allows easy underwater usage via six buttons integrated into the design. Users also retain access to the iPhone's camera for underwater shots and on the software side, the SE-35 is offered with a complementary app which features navigation tools and torch, in addition to an automatic dive log. Read More
— Robotics

New algorithms improve efficiency of underwater mine-sweeping robots

In addition to human divers equipped with sonar cameras, the U.S. Navy has also trained dolphins and sea lions to search for bombs on and around vessels. All these methods are expensive and can’t always deliver the best performance in all environments. Robots would seem to be the obvious answer and underwater robots have been the focus of much research and development in recent years. Now researchers at MIT have developed new algorithms to vastly improve the navigation and feature-detecting capabilities of these robots. Read More