Robotic devices help many scientists in their studies, and marine biology is no exception. Underwater robots unravel the secrets of the ocean , help spy on its inhabitants , discover new forms of life .
As a rule, such work is performed by various unmanned vehicles operating collectively or singly. They are equipped with cameras, and the operator controls them. But there is one problem: fish and other inhabitants of the sea kingdom are very fast and secretive. They simply can not keep up with it, so often oceanographers are content with random shots .
Engineers from Peking University of Aviation and Astronautics decided to create a robot that would not go to free swimming, but attached to a large animal (shark, whale or dolphin) and traveled with it. The head of the research group Li Wen ( Li Wen ) emphasizes: no harm in this case the animal will not be applied.
On the creation of such a robot, the team was inspired by fish sticking from a group of percussion. They are known for sucking to large fish, whales, sea turtles and even the bottoms of ships. They are helped in this by the special structure of the body: the dorsal fin has stuck to the head and is turned into a sucker.
In the wild nature of sticking not only travel “hitchhiking” with the owner, but also feeds with him – she gets leftovers, feces and crustaceans that also live in marine animals. Energy costs are minimal, and this is very important for robotics.
Another advantage of this type of robot is that they no longer have to track down and catch up with the objects of observation.
The device itself is a pillow, similar in shape to the fins of fish stuck. On it there are approximately thousands of tiny thorns made of carbon fiber. They are attached to the plates, in which there are special sensors for position adjustment. Due to them, the rows of spikes can be raised and lowered, respectively, to attach or detach the device. All this is an imitation of biomechanism, which has on their suckers sticking.
All that you need a robotic suction cup – a flat surface (smooth or rough – it does not matter). And the device withstands the force of traction of the body, the weight of which more than 340 exceeds its own. The developers conducted the tests, attaching the device to a glass, a carton of juice, a smartphone and a shark’s back.
By the way, such a robotic, sticky spy is being created, thanks to 3D printing technologies, in just two days. The authors are sure that such devices will be of great use: they will help to monitor the movement and migration of marine inhabitants, mark rare species and study them.
Today, special beacons are attached to the bodies of animals for this purpose, however this method is constantly criticized by animal protectionists. We will explain that the sensors are attached to animals with the help of special darts, which can infect the organism (we talked about the death of the killer whale because of this experiment ) and, in addition, leave the fins on the fins.
The development , described in detail in the publication Science Robotics, now awaits tests in the open sea. However, it can be adapted for other robotic systems, engineers add.
By the way, earlier it was thanks to robotics on the ocean floor that a unique lilac squid-shorty , sea anemones with mysterious tentacles and an unknown form of life in the form of a purple bubble were discovered .