Written by: Aymen Sherwani – Grade 10
Scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) are currently engineering biometric robots for underwater use, which are actually capable of thinking for themselves. It seems that Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S, a multifunctional robotic butler, might be closer than we thought. Now before anyone loses their mind and starts to rant about robots enslaving mankind, let me tell you – you’re crazy, and I hate you. I mean, who in the right mind doesn’t like innovation? Probably Kim Jong Un, but that’s not the point! The invention of these robots practically broke the barrier through sci-fi science and real science, and people want to tell me that this is a bad idea?
The scientists have looked to nature to build robots that mimic the same natural behaviors of turtles, in order to merge into their surroundings without issue to the ecosystem. In the underwater robotic world – yes there’s an underwater robotic world- the robot of choice, according to the researchers, would be one that would be miniscule, autonomous, and lack a ballast system, which enhances its versatility. This lets them perform more complicated tasks such as surveillance and water quality monitoring; moreover, possibly discovering the unseen depths of the sea.
We have been to the moon and back, we’ve sent a rover to Mars, and yet we have still only discovered less than 5% of our waters, meaning, we don’t exactly know what lies in those waters. For all we know, the Kraken or Atlantis may exist! There could be fish 3 times the size of a blue whale. The timing for these robots could not have been better.
During times of great innovative success, the future looks friendlier than usual. Speaking of friendly, if you thought things weren’t going to get even more exciting than robots with brains -there are plans to create a swarm of tiny autonomous robotic sea turtles to take on cautious missions like underwater nuclear waste detection or other tasks too hazardous for human beings – like find sea monsters. To make things better, according to Professor S.K. Panda, the turtle robots are self-charging which eliminates the need for them to return to a base station for recharging.
“In the future, we can have a swarm of tiny turtles which communicate with each other and act collaboratively to perform their duties. With improved maneuverability they can go to tiny and narrow places like crevices where bigger vessels are unable to do so,” said Professor S.K. Panda, Electrical and Computer Engineering department, NUS. He was one of the lead researchers, along with Dr. Abhra Rou Chowdhury. Together, for the past 3 years, they have been developing solutions to enhancing the living standards of aquatic organisms through water monitoring.