In a paper published in the international Science Robotics journal, an Italian research group introduced a new kind of underwater technology that applies the concept of Soft Robotics.

The team comprises of experts in the field from Pisa, particularly from the BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, and biologists from Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn in Naples. Their project is about the innovation of the SILVER2, or what we know as the “Crab Robot.”

2018 SILVER: A Dog-Like Robot That Walked the Ocean Floors

Before they came up with SILVER2, Marcello Calisti spearheaded the first SILVER robot. The Seabed Interaction Legged Vehicle for Exploration and Research (SILVER), also known as the “Dog-Robot”, walked, crawled, and hopped on different surfaces. Though it directly interacts with the ground, it did not damage the terrains in the ecosystem.

Using SILVER’s findings, the team applied for a National Geographic Society Grant, from which shortly after they successfully received. This grant allowed them to improve the design and give it more functionality, like collecting plastic from the seafloor.

They aim to prove the SILVER’s benefits to our society with further research, which inspired the innovation of SILVER2.

TESTING SILVER2: A Crab-Inspired Robot Testing the Waters

SILVER2, known as “Crab-Robot”, is an underwater bioinspired legged robot that we can compare to a crustacean crab. Given this thought, it means that rather than looking exactly like a crab, the robot can move past through rough and uneven terrains smoothly.

Like a crab, it has six intelligible and sprung legs which help to:

  • walk across the seabed
  • jump between rocks and muddy surfaces even in a lateral position
  • collect any waste that sets on the seabed, like sand and plastic
  • act out modalities similar to benthic animals

The new leg-stabilizing unit located in its waterproof-shelled body also allows it to maintain balance as it moves. To capture videos of its environment, it has:

  • contact and pressure sensors
  • a buoyancy system,
  • cameras and microphones

After conducting a series of field tests on SILVER2 in natural sea conditions between 0.5 and 0.12 meters in depth, the team finds out that the robot can:

  • interact with the environment in a more delicate way
  • maintains a silent and passive position, which does not affect our fish

The robot’s navigation system allows it to move past obstacles. It can work autonomously or with a human operator on a boat who controls the graphical interface that permits you to:

  • view what the robot sees
  • set the direction and locomotion for the robot
  • detect pressure and temperature using its built-in sensors

Knowing that the robot can operate approximately between 7 and 16 hours, the researchers noted that it could interact safely with the environment for a long time.

To expand the robot’s applications in other fields, they worked with technologies and professionals like oceanographers, biologists, and ecologists. They forwarded their interests to use the robot to explore and take care of the marine environment and govern similar pursuits. They gave way for more soft robots to emerge.

Do you plan to develop a thesis that can help solve our marine problems?

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