Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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MARINE NEW APPLICATIONS 56 unmanned systems inside   October/November 2017 Scientists are developing marine robots based on fish and eels that can reduce disruption as they measure for contaminants. Testing has also begun on swarms of small autonomous underwater vehicles, which can self-coordinate as they gather data from across a spill or plume. by Charles Q. Choi Photos courtesy of © Alain Herzog /2017 EPFL and © Biorob/2017 EPFL. BOOST POLLUTION DETECTION ROBOT FISH, EELS AND SWARMS N ot only are more robots being developed that can swim through wa- ter, new designs and sensors are emerging that will help ensure that water is also clean. Pollution- detecting robots shaped like eels or trout will be able to glide through the water with minimal disruption, enabling them to gath- er more accurate data. Deployed in swarms, such devices could help scientists quickly analyze large stretches of water. Robotic Eels Currently, water monitoring is of- ten done from fixed measurement stations set up around, say, a lake or installation. "This has the disadvantage of missing pollution that is outside of the fixed stations," said professor Jan van der Meer at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. "A water-pollution-detecting robot could map more easily the state of pollution in an area." Van der Meer and his colleagues helped develop the Envirobot, a swimming contamination-detect- ing robot shaped like an eel. Eels are known to be especially efficient swimmers, capable of migrations covering as much as 5,000 kilome- ters over as long as 180 days. The complete robot is segment- ed, consisting of about 10 modules. "Each segment is some 20 centime- ters long, 8 centimeters wide and 10 to 20 centimeters deep, depend- ing on the sensors it carries," van der Meer said. The modular design helps engineers vary its length and capabilities as needed. Each module contains a small electric motor that can make the ro- bot curve, enabling the Envirobot to move sinuously through the water. "The most economical speed to swim is about 0.5 meter per sec- ond, but if needed, the robot can

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