Robotics researchers at Switzerland’s EPFL have produced an Envirobot, a robotic eel built to swim through contaminated water to deliver programmed environmental services.
Researchers at Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have produced some animal inspired robots over the years, such as the reptilian spy crocodiles. Recently, they announced the development of a robotic eel that can swim through contaminated water, to find the source of the pollution among other things.
The sensor equipped robot can be controlled remotely or swim on its own . . .
- The robot measures about 1.5 meters long (5 ft) and is made up of individual modules that each house a small electric motor. These motors are what changes the robot’s curvature, enabling it to swim smoothly through the water.
- Each of the modules are outfitted with sensors. Some of these sensors measure things like conductivity, temperature, etc. While others house bacteria, small crustaceans and fish cells, which work as biological sensors. By watching how these organisms respond to the water as it enters the chamber, the operators can find out what kind of pollutants are in the water and its toxicity in general. For now, the team has only tried this out in the lab, where it says it was shown to be highly effective.
Envirobot has been trialed in Lake Geneva, where in a recent exercise, its ability to track changes in water conductivity was tested. The team did this by pumping salt into a specific area close to the shore and set Envirobot free, where it successfully mapped the variations in conductivity resulting from the salt, while creating a temperature map of the area. Further tests involving the biological sensors and real contaminants will follow.
You can see Envirobot in action in the video below . . .
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