These Tiny Underwater Robots Mimic Planktons In Ocean

Posted: Jan 25 2017, 6:59am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

These Tiny Underwater Robots Mimic Planktons in Ocean
A graphic representation of the underwater explorers off the coast of Del Mar. Credit: Jaffe Lab for Underwater Imaging/Scripps Oceanography
  • Myriad Small Robots sent Underwater to Map the Ocean Floors of the World
 

Scientists have sent myriad small robots underwater to map the ocean floors of the world.

A swarm of waterproof miniature robots, developed by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, were sent into the oceans of the globe to study the waves and the plankton that reside among them.

These “bots” will help answer many questions regarding marine biology. The miniature autonomous underwater explorers (M-AUEs) will gauge the activities taking place at the microlevel stage in the ocean environment.

These tiny robots contain instruments of analysis and sensors such as thermometers. They will move here and there and navigate the depths so that more thorough knowledge regarding oceanography may emerge.    

There are virtually no limits to the number of these “bots”. They could even be sent into the waters in the hundred and thousands. The interactivity between the ocean currents and marine life forms will be laid out in the open thanks to this study.

Currently, 16 coconut-sized robots of this kind are being sent into the depths. They will mimic the behavior of plankton. Plankton tend to drift and they go on to collect en masse on the surface of the oceans of the world. They form red layers which could easily be detected. 

The plankton have to be monitored and tracked to get to the roots of their behavior. Each unit of plankton is no bigger than a grain of rice. So the job is a difficult one. The swarms of “bots” are the ideal tool to oversee the shoals of plankton.

The robots are very small and don’t cost much either. This makes them a source of double advantage for the researchers. What the scientists know is that the plankton form a well-knit and tightly bound-up patch which travels in a haphazard manner. 

This patch utilizes the ocean currents as a guidance device and thus sort of rides piggyback on the oceanic waves. This study has virtually led to the dawn of a new era in the science of oceanography. The plankton swarm in a manner that these “bots” imitate all the better to gauge their behavioral patterns.

Findings of this new study got published in the January 24th issue of the journal Nature Communications.

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