This robotic turtle could help map the world’s sunken wrecks (VIDEO)


posted Monday, December 2, 2013 at 2:15 PM EDT

Despite our romantic dreams to the contrary, looking for sunken wrecks is not exactly the easiest thing to do in the world. Human divers are slow, need to return to the surface frequently, and can only go so deep; remote sensing techniques lack resolution; and many diving robots require long tethers and can disturb the silt on the bottom of the sea floor. But a new robot modeled after a sea turtle could defeat those problems, and allow for better, safer remote exploration of the deeps.

The U-CAT is a new biomimetic robots (one designed after an animal or plant), and its creators from the Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia believe that it could help with many of the trickier aspects of exploring sunken ships. Rather than using propellers, which can cause large eddies and kick up silt, the U-CAT uses four flippers, which also allow it to rotate on any axis, and rapidly and accurately maneuver in any direction. 

The U-CAT will also be outfitted with a camera, and can be controlled remotely, which would allow it to travel into areas otherwise inaccessible, and retrieve information otherwise too dangerous for humans.

The robot turtle still has a lot to prove. The briny depths are a hazardous environment. Will such a small robot be able to survive being buffeted by underwater currents? Will it have enough light to see? Will the remote control system be strong enough for deep diving?

If you're in the UK, you can see the U-CAT at the Science Museum in London alongside a number of other nature mimicking creations.

(via Engadget, GizMag)