Scientists Create Tiny Underwater Robots To Study Oceans

Posted: Jan 25 2017, 7:25am CST | by , Updated: Jan 25 2017, 7:32am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Scientists Creat Tiny Underwater Robots to Study Oceans
A graphic representation of the underwater explorers off the coast of Del Mar. Credit: Jaffe Lab for Underwater Imaging/Scripps Oceanography

The miniature robot can help answer some basic questions about the life lurking in the oceans

Scientists have developed a swarm of tiny robots which can travel deep down into the oceans and provide exquisite insight into marine life.

Scientists believe that by using these data they can answer some basic questions about the life lurking in the oceans.

Designed by Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the miniature autonomous underwater explorers, or M-AUEs are equipped with various sensors that can measure temperature and surrounding conditions. The data obtained from these sensors will help researchers better understand the interaction of ocean currents with marine creatures, especially with planktons which are smaller than the grain of rice and are the base of the ocean food web.

The thing that sets M-AUEs set apart from the other underwater robot is its ability to record 3D movements of the ocean internal waves which are generated with the disturbance of different layers of waters. Then, it replicates how these ocean waves alter, in this case, the movements of individual planktons.

"We can move the finger around, but we're never in two places at the same time; so we basically have no sort of three-dimensional understanding of the ocean. By building this swarm of robots, we were in 16 places at the same time.” Jules Jaffe, the designer of the robots told Live Science.

To test robots’ ability to track and mimic the movements of planktons, researchers carried out a trial and deployed a swarm of 16 M-AUEs programmed to stay 33-feet deep in the ocean off the coast of Torrey Pines near California.

During the five four long trial, rsearchers decided to test a two-decade old mathematical theory. The theory says that swimming plankton would form dense patches when pushed around by internal waves.

The results of the trial were nearly identical to what were predicted by theory. Researchers found that swarms of robots were pushed by the ocean current, resulting in a tightly packed patch. Then, they were get pushed apart.

“This is the first time such a mechanism has been tested underwater," said Scripps biological oceanographer Peter Franks.

“This swarm-sensing approach opens up a whole new realm of ocean exploration.”

Researchers are hoping to build hundreds of more underwater robots to expand their work and to track other relative conditions.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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