In case you’re designing robots for the exploration of oceans on different planets, you need one thing that is powerful, versatile and simple to retailer in a spacecraft. It seems that soft-bodied robots impressed by a marine organism could be the good selection.

Salps are small animals present in oceans all through the world, the place they pump water via their gelatinous barrel-shaped our bodies with a view to transfer via the ocean. They spend a part of their life cycle alone, and a part of it linked to different salps in lengthy chains.

Led by researcher Valentina Lo Gatto, scientists on the College of Bristol have developed experimental underwater robots impressed by salps, referred to as RoboSalps.

Each has a tubular comfortable silicone physique, inside which is a drone-style electrical motor and propeller. That bidirectional propeller attracts water via the physique, letting the robotic jet up and down or forwards and backwards. Such a easy propulsion mechanism solely permits for pretty primary actions, nonetheless.

Three linked RoboSalps make their way through a test tank
Three linked RoboSalps make their approach via a check tank

Valentina Lo Gatto

With that limitation in thoughts, the RoboSalps can hyperlink up with each other, forming multi-robot constructions that may maneuver extra like a real submersible – a few of them can be utilized for horizontal thrust, and a few for vertical thrust.

As an added bonus, if one of many RoboSalps in a gaggle ought to conk out, the others can compensate, offering a redundancy system. It is also potential that a number of robots might autonomously journey to an underwater vacation spot as a gaggle, then cut up aside to carry out separate duties individually – after which they might hyperlink again collectively once more.

“Due to their low weight and their robustness, they are perfect for extraterrestrial underwater exploration missions, for instance, within the subsurface ocean on the Jupiter moon Europa,” stated Lo Gatto.

Different urged functions embrace the inspection of sewage tunnels and industrial cooling techniques.

The RoboSalps could be seen in motion, within the video beneath.


Supply: College of Bristol

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