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 60 unmanned systems inside October/November 2017 plume of pollution back to its source, van der Meer said. It would do this by sending data on the times and places various measurements were made, and a remote computer would cal- culate where to find the most likely regions of higher concentrations, he explained. The Envirobot also has a radio antenna that an operator can use to return it to shore in case of emergency. In the future, the researchers en- vision a module giving the Envirobot the ability to communicate via mobile phone signals. Tests in Switzerland The Envirobot project is a joint initiative involv ing the Sw iss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the University of Lausanne, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology. "For our consortium that consisted of biolo- gists, engineers, chemists and so on, the most difficult part was bringing everything together and working towards a common goal," van der Meer said. "It is much easier to tinker in your own lab than it is to make sure every part you produce is compatible with everything else and testable. Consequently, we encountered a lot of trivial problems, with software, connections, bolts and nuts, 3-D printing, materials, and so on. We solved this by frequent discussions and meetings." "The second major challenge we faced, and are still facing, is benchmarking," van der Meer said. "Although individual elements and sensors of the robots could be tested in the labs, the robot at some point had to be tested in the field. As you can imagine, one cannot just simply get permission to contaminate an area just to test the robot. This required quite some thinking and testing." A recent test involved simulating water pollu- tion by pouring salt into a small area just off the shore of Lake Geneva, thus changing the water's conductivity. The researchers then let the robot swim in the contaminated area. The robot suc- cessfully mapped the variations in conductivity and generated a temperature map. Van der Meer cautioned "it is still a long way ahead to make such systems sufficiently robust that they can be deployed easily." Still, he noted "that our project was sort of the first effort to bring all this together in a single system, which was very challenging." The eventual goal for Envirobot could be to help monitor small lakes and other local reservoirs of water, Bayat said. Robotic Trout Instead of a robotic eel, scientists in Korea and their colleagues developed a robotic trout. The aim of their research was to help fish farmers monitor ocean pollution levels. Mariculture is a form of aquaculture dedi- cated to growing fish, shellfish and other marine products like seaweed in seawater using large saltwater tanks located offshore. Pollution is a major problem and pollution levels are monitored using unmanned under- water robots. These robots, however, are noto- riously unwieldy, often inefficient, and noisy, which scares the fish, said Gi-Hun Yang, prin- cipal research scientist of the robotics group at the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology in Ansan. Instead, the researchers sought to develop a robotic trout that could move as quietly, eff iciently and deftly as a real f ish. To do this, they devised a mathematical function enabling each of the robot's body parts to move in sync with each other. This technique mimicked the smooth, undulating motion used by fish such as tuna, carp and trout to power themselves through the water. Photo courtesy of Gi-Hun Yang, Korea Institute of Industrial Technology. A mathematical function enables each of the robot trout's body parts to move in sync with each other, mimicking the undulating motion fi sh use to power themselves smoothly through the water.

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