Underwater Robots Collaborate

Posted on August 6, 2006 3 Comments

Underwater robots work together without human input

This August in Monterey Bay, Calif., an entire fleet of undersea robots will, for the first time, work together without the aid of humans to make detailed and efficient observations of the ocean.

The oceanographic test bed in Monterey is expected to yield rich information in particular about a periodic upwelling of cold water that occurs at this time of year near Point Año Nuevo, northwest of Monterey Bay.

But the project has potentially larger implications. It may lead to the development of robot fleets that forecast ocean conditions and better protect endangered marine animals, track oil spills, and guide military operations at sea. Moreover, the mathematical system that allows the undersea robots to self-choreograph their movements in response to their environment might one day power other robotic teams that — without human supervision — could explore not just oceans, but deserts, rain forests and even other planets.

The Adaptive Sampling and Prediction (ASAP) program is funded by the Naval Postgraduate School and co-led by Naomi Ehrich Leonard of Princeton University and Steven Ramp of the Naval Postgraduate School.

Using Robots to Collect Data on our Oceans

Posted on June 20, 2012 1 Comment

Interesting idea to use self propelled robots to provide data on the oceans. They use no fuel to move, they use wave energy. They also have solar panels on the top. The wave gliders can travel to a distant area, collect data, and return to base. One of the big problems with convention methods of collecting data on the oceans is the large costs of placing the buoys (and the cost of servicing them).

Related: Wave Glider – The State of the OceansAutonomous Underwater Robot Decides on Experiment OptionsAltered Oceans: the Crisis at Sea

Autonomous Underwater Robot Decides on Experiment Options

Posted on March 12, 2010 No Comments

Ocean robot plans experiments

the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) used a piece of software called “T rex”, which operates in a similar way to the software used to control Nasa’s Mars Exploration Rovers – helping them to avoid obstacles on the surface of the Red Planet.

One main difference between the two pieces of software is that for the Mars rovers, the software ran in the control centre on Earth. With this marine vehicle, it runs onboard the robotic vehicle.

“We tell it, ‘here’s the range of tasks that we want you to perform’, and it goes off and assesses what is happening in the ocean, making decisions about how much of the range it will cover to get back the data we want.”

Researchers at MBARI used the Gulper AUV to monitor potentially harmful algal blooms.

Kim Fulton-Bennett from MBARI explained: “We used to send out a ship for a full day every few weeks to manually take these measurements. Now we just take the AUV outside the harbour and send it on its way.

“About 24 hours later, it comes back, we hoist it on board, and download the data.”

Related: Underwater robots work together without human inputUnmanned Water VehiclesUS Navy Sponsored Technology Summer Camp

Building Engineers by Letting Kids Build Robots

Posted on February 8, 2009 5 Comments

Building engineers

This year Google has enthusiastically supported my initiative to bring a local group of girls closer to technology through the FIRST Robotics Competition.

“People claim that only with the perspective of years can you know how much influence a particular event has had on you,” Tal Tzangen says and proceeds to explain how she is convinced her participation in the FIRST Robotics Competition last year has significantly changed the course of her life. Tal, a 17 year old girl from a rural part of Israel, was taking technology courses at her school, not because she was particularly interested in technology but because the other options seemed even less appealing to her. Although Israel is also known as “Silicon Wadi,” Tal thought technology was “just for geeks.” Last year she agreed to be a member of a newly forming FIRST team, not knowing what she was letting herself in for.

The competition involves 1,686 teams from more than 42,000 high schools spanning the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Turkey, and the U.K. Each team has six weeks to build a robot from a common kit of parts provided by FIRST. Then, they compete with other robots in a new game devised each year.

She has enlisted some pre-high school girls with the hope of serving as a role model to them. Likewise, she has encouraged the forming of a FIRST LEGO team (9-14 year olds) to ensure the “next generation” for the Robotics Competition.

Related: Lunacy – FIRST Robotics Challenge 2009National Underwater Robotics ChallengeBuilding minds by building robotsLEGO Sumo Robotic Championship

Robot Water Striders

Posted on December 10, 2007 No Comments

Scientists crack how insect bounces on water:

Walking on water may seem like a miracle to humans. But it is a humdrum achievement for the little water strider, which is able to bounce up and down on water too. Scientists have already solved the mystery of how their six slender, stilt-like legs evenly distribute their scant body weight over a relatively large area so that the “skin” formed by the surface tension of the water supports them, so four millimetre across dimples form under each foot as they skim about.

But scientists remained puzzled by how they could jump up and down upon the surface of water. Now a team in South Korea is about to report that it has at last explained the water strider’s baffling ability to leap onto water without sinking, in a forthcoming issue of the journal Langmuir, an achievement that could help further develop robots that can move about on lakes and reservoirs to monitor water quality, spy or explore.

Related: Robo Insect FlightWorld’s Lightest Flying RobotUnderwater Robots CollaborateRoachbot: Cockroach Controlled Robot

National Underwater Robotics Challenge

Posted on June 7, 2007 1 Comment

See the National Underwater Robotics Challenge web site for information on the event in Arizona June 8th through 10th. They offer a remote underwater vehicle kit for $250.

The ROV-IN-A-BOX is intended to help get teams involved that are new to underwater robotics. Buy purchasing this kit, it helps put an inexperienced team, or a team with young students like elementary school kids, into a comfort zone to allow them to take on the Underwater Challenge. It reduces the stress, time and resources needed to acquire all the parts to complete an ROV for the competition. The kit can also be used by a more mature team as a starting point for the ROV they may want to build.

There will be a live video stream June 9 at 8pm MST and will continue to until about 2am MST June 10. The video will come from both the ROV and in the pool with event cameras in and around the submarine. Once the video has been processed and mixed poolside by Arizona State University’s Applied Learning Technologies Institute, it will then be channeled to Chandler High School’s television studio, where it will be broadcast to a view gallery and simultaneously sent to a server at ASU where it will be webcast to the world.

Related: La Vida Robot – great Wired article on the Carl Hayden High SchoolUnmanned Water VehiclesNorthwest FIRST Robotics Competition

Video of the ROV in a box:
Read more

Robots for Space Exploration

Posted on January 29, 2007 No Comments

Robot Subs in Space James Vlahos:

But now, after spending nearly three decades on the margins of the space industry, Stone is closer than he’s ever been to proving that caves are the best earthly training ground for exploring space. Backed by a $5-million grant from NASA, he is developing a robot called DepthX that may turn out to be the most advanced autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) ever. Like its inventor, DepthX is a caver, capable of navigating constrained, obstacle-filled environments. Its theoretical mission, though, is bold even by Stone’s standards: a hunt for extraterrestrial life on the Jovian moon of Europa.

Internet Underwater Fiber

Posted on January 6, 2007 1 Comment

Underwater Peril:

Laying undersea cable systems is a monumental process. After surveying landing sites, studying seabed geology, and assessing risks, engineers plot a route. A company like Corning delivers strands of fiber-optic glass to a manufacturer say, Tyco Telecommunications which encases the fiber in metal. Then gigantic spools of cable, repeaters that transmit signals long distances, and other gear are loaded on cable-laying vessels. For months, the ships lower the cables thousands of feet to the seabed. In congested spots, engineers use robots to dig trenches for the cable that protect it from wayward anchors and fishing nets. Then crews haul the cable ends above water and connect them to land-based stations.

Engineering experts say the Taiwan incident should persuade all operators to do more to prepare for quakes. It’s not good enough if you have a variety of routes but then bring them into shore at the same location–especially if, as in the Taiwan case, they’re crossing a fault line right there.

But there’s another lesson: The global telecom network really is quite resilient, even in the face of such a crippling blow. Within 12 hours of the undersea rock slides, at least partial service had been restored to most of the affected networks. This was done by rerouting traffic via land and sea through Europe to the U.S.

Related: Extreme EngineeringHistory of the Internet and Related Networks

Boiling Water in Space

Posted on January 3, 2007 2 Comments

Bizarre Boiling, NASA:

The next time you’re watching a pot of water boil, perhaps for coffee or a cup of soup, pause for a moment and consider: what would this look like in space? Would the turbulent bubbles rise or fall? And how big would they be? Would the liquid stay in the pan at all?

Until a few years ago, nobody knew. Indeed, physicists have trouble understanding the complex behavior of boiling fluids here on Earth. Perhaps boiling in space would prove even more baffling…. It’s an important question because boiling happens not only in coffee pots, but also in power plants and spacecraft cooling systems. Engineers need to know how boiling works.

I had trouble seeing what was happening in the first video. Try this video first.

Because a smaller volume of water is being heated, it comes to a boil much more quickly. As bubbles of vapor form, though, they don’t shoot to the surface — they coalesce into a giant bubble that wobbles around within the liquid.

Related: Saturday Morning Science from NASASolar EruptionNASA Tests Robots at Meteor Crater

More Unmanned Water Vehicles

Posted on August 11, 2006 2 Comments

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International recently completed the 9th International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition [link broken, so it was removed].

City College built little sub that almost could by Ronald W. Powell:

The four-day event ended yesterday with the University of Florida repeating as champions and winning $7,000, and Duke finishing second and claiming $5,000.

Academic teams from 20 colleges and universities and one high school deployed their submersibles in a pool at Point Loma’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center and attempted to complete three underwater tasks. The crew from San Diego City College was among 11 teams to navigate its 22-pound vessel through a gate.

See: La Vida Robot (a great article on the Carl Hayden Community High Schools entry in the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center’s Remotely Operated Vehicle Competition last year).

While we have posted about several autonomous water robots lately don’t think water is the only place engineers are experimenting with autonomous robots. The Aerial Robotics Competition [link broken, so it was removed] offers bragging rights and possibly US $60,000 (if I understand the rules – see the full rules for details [link broken, so it was removed]). An idea for the competition can be seen from this excerpt:
Read more

Kayak Robots

Posted on August 7, 2006 No Comments

robotic kayaks

Kayaks adapted to test marine robotics

Working in labs that resemble machine shops, these engineers are taking small steps toward the holy grail of robotics — cooperative autonomy — making machines work together seamlessly to complete tasks with a minimum of human direction.

The tool they’re using is the simple kayak.

Yesterday it was submarine autonomus robots from Princeton (funded by the Naval Postgraduate School). The robot kayak project is funded by Office of Naval Research and the MIT Sea Grant College Program.

Much of the technology being tested is ultimately intended for use in underwater robots, or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), but testing software on AUVs can easily become a multimullion-dollar experiment.

“I want to have master’s students and Ph.D. students that can come in, test algorithms and develop them on a shoestring budget,” said Associate Professor John J. Leonard of mechanical engineering.