Sensorbot Robotic Bubble Swarm For Ocean Exploration
Sensorbots are waterproof robots equipped with biogeochemical sensors; about the size of your fist, they communicate with flashes of blue light. The intent is to deploy swarms of sensorbots in the depths of the ocean to learn more about this remote ecosystem.
(Robotic Bubble Swarms For Ocean Exploration)
“We are leveraging our automation, sensors, biotechnology, and systems expertise to develop unique robots that can be deployed by the hundreds, travel in formation, and communicate together for exploration and discovery. The Sensorbots will enable continuous spatiotemporal monitoring of key elements in the ocean and the ability to respond to events such as underwater earthquakes and hydrothermal vents. Such research is essential for a more thorough understanding of the multiple systems in the oceans – microbes and other sea life, geology, and chemicals.”
Cody Youngbull and Joseph Chao, assistant research professors, are both integral members of the Sensorbot team and have spent years developing the technology. Much of this creative tinkering has taken place in the labs at Biodesign, situated in landlocked Arizona. But in the summer of 2011, Youngbull took the Sensorbots to the deep ocean.
This far-flung endeavor involves the construction of a cabled underwater observatory in the northeast Pacific Ocean, off the coasts of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia on the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate. This area is home to many dramatic undersea features, including volcanoes and hydrothermal vents – wellsprings of unique life forms.
A high-speed camera situated on the seafloor picks up the signals and stores them for later decoding aboard the ship. As sensorbot technology develops, these orbs may blanket large areas of the ocean and transmit information regularly to a central data hub. Ultimately, Sensorbots will be capable of operating in semi-autonomous robotic swarms, moving under remote control, in a 3D geometric formation through precisely controlled volumes of seawater.
“Sensing webs are an exciting thing,” Youngbull says, “because the scale of phenomena are vast in the oceans.” Rather than delivering a very expensive robot to a single point in space and then serially moving it around, often missing dynamic phenomena, an array of inexpensive Sensorbots can cover a wide field, permitting real-time investigations of earthquakes, biological blooms, and other episodic phenomena.
This reminded me strongly of a similar effort carried out in science fiction writer Robert Silverberg's 1969 novel The Man in the Maze. In the novel, potentially deadly alien worlds are investigated by showering different areas of the planet with a thousand throw-away sensor devices - the recording eye. Here is what one of the recording eyes sent back:
Muller saw a cloud-wrapped planet... it could have been Venus... The recording eye pierced the cloud layer and revealed an unfamiliar, not very Earthlike planet...
Boardman said, "That was taken less than a month ago. We parked a drone ship fifty thousand kilometers up and dropped roughly a thousand eyes on Beta Hydri IV. At least half went straight to the bottom of the ocean...
(Read more about the recording eye)
In his 1995 novel The Diamond Age, science fiction author Neal Stephenson wrote about a similar swarm of aerostat devices tasked with surveillance and security - the dog pod grid:
Atlantis/Shanghai occupied the loftiest ninety percent of New Chusan's land area - an inner plateau about a mile above sea level, where the air was cooler and cleaner. Parts of it were marked off with a lovely wrought-iron fence, but the real border was defended by something called the dog pod grid - a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats...
(Read more about Stephenson's dog pod grid)
From ASU News.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/29/2012)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
MIT's C-LEARN Helps Robots Transfer Learning To Other Robots
'Talk Between Robots radio...' - Frederik Pohl, 1954.
Bionic Eye-Hand Combo Robot Grasps Objects On Its Own
'The crawling, exploring object was V-Stephen's surgeon-hand, a self-contained robot...' - Philip K. Dick, 1955.
FarmBot, Your Personal Robotic Farmer
'A robot farmer was plowing...' - Philip K. Dick, 1954.
Fukushima Plant Needs Radiation-Proof Scorpion Robots
'...with lead-bodied, radio-remote controlled androids, it's easier.' - Mari Wolf, 1952.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Bat Bot Robotic Flapping-Wing Drone
'The dark birdforms dotted the mountaintops like statues of prehistoric beasts, wings outspread...'
NASA's Astronaut Rescue Ball
'Ball and closely-prisoned man plummeted downward..'
ARM Wants To Build Brain Chips
'Slivers of microsoft, angular fragments of colored silicon...'
Sky Fence - A Drone-Proof Shield Created Over Prison
'There’s still a protective field over the whole thing. It volatilizes anything that tries to get through.'
Geoengineering The Atmosphere For Climate Change
'...a uniform temperature for each degree of latitude the year round.'
Archinaut Orbiting Robotic Factory
'mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'
Cryonic Preservation - The Last Perk You'll Ever Need
'Is there not also a law providing for voluntary suspension of animation?'
Computers Understand Humans By Watching And Modeling Them
Soon, your computer will be watching you... and judging you.
NASA Asks For Moon To Earth Delivery Ideas
'Authority's 3-g catapult was almost one hundred kilometers long...'
Musk Tunnels Wisely Restrict Drivers
Too many robots.
Robot Swarms Controlled With Augmented Reality
'You're not thinking in enough dimensions...'
MIT's C-LEARN Helps Robots Transfer Learning To Other Robots
'Talk Between Robots radio...'
Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.'
Rapid Automated Search For Habitable Planets Needed
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'
WatchSense Perfect For Fat-Fingered Smartwatch Owners
'Now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components...'
Digital Construction Platform Robot 3D Prints A Building
'It extrudes material like a spider.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories