Shrimp robots will help explore the ocean

(ORDO NEWS) — The study of the sea depths and their inhabitants at the present level requires special tools. One of them can be RoboKrill, a floating robot that imitates Antarctic krill with its shape and movement. Scientists plan to use the robot shrimp in large flocks.

Modern oceanology requires new instruments that can dive and move freely in the water, while at the same time collecting information about the local inhabitants and their habitat.

In recent years, robotics experts have created a number of such devices. Now an important step in this direction has been taken by researchers from Brown University (USA) and the Autonomous University of Mexico.

Scientists have created RoboKrill, a robot that resembles one of the types of crustaceans, namely the Antarctic krill Euphasia superba.

These creatures live in huge numbers in the cold waters around Antarctica, where they account for a significant part of the plankton. It is noteworthy that E. superba is a valuable commercial species.

At its core, the new invention is a platform that allows you to reproduce the wave-like movements of the prototype animal. The design provides for active control of the movement of the limbs and passive control of the displacement of their individual sections relative to each other.

Each limb of the robot, like a real krill, has two parts that play the role of oars – the so-called exopod and endopod, and their functions in the stroke are very different. Individual components of robokrill are made using 3D printing technology.

The floating “robot shrimp” reproduces both the structure of the limbs of E. superba and the features of their movement. Thanks to this, it is able to move in the water just as smoothly and efficiently.

Shrimp robots will help explore the ocean

“Before starting this project, I was doing various studies on the role played by the formation of plankton aggregations,” says Monica M. Wilhelmus, one of the authors of the new study. “To do this, I performed experiments in which the behavior of organisms was controlled using light signals.

Then I thought: what if, instead of controlling the behavior of these creatures from the outside, we use a robotic system with the same dynamic properties that swimming animals have.

Initially, Wilhelmus planned to simply evaluate the fundamental possibility of such a development. However, the researcher soon realized that her idea had great potential. Moreover, it fills the gap in this area.

The fact is that now scientists have devices that swim either very slowly or very quickly – without any intermediate option.

Robocreel is able to fill this “ecological niche” while at the same time taking on tasks that other floating robots are too big for. When designing RoboKrill, the researchers considered its various parameters separately. This made possible their optimization and further improvement of the shrimp robot.

Scientists hope that soon biologists and ecologists will be able to use robokrill to remotely study marine habitats and collect data underwater. In the meantime, Wilhelmus and her team plan to improve their offspring, as well as test it in natural waters.

The robot shrimp, like living Antarctic krill, is expected to swim in large aggregations, and researchers will soon be able to release whole flocks of scientific shrimp robots into the ocean.


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