Saturday, October 23, 2021

Venice Underwater robots monitoring climate change

 

Underwater robots

Climate change, pollution, mass tourism, and invasive species all have a negative impact on huge lake areas like Venice. A swarm of autonomous aquatic robots is being used by an EU initiative to monitor and counteract the effects of these elements underwater. Researchers will be able to conduct several activities at once and from multiple locations, which will aid in the fight against climate change.

It is impossible to discuss Venice without mentioning its canals. However, you should keep an eye out for the aquatic robots the next time you take a romantic gondola ride around this metropolis. That's because a group of researchers from the subCULTron project, which is financed by the European Union, has "launched" a swarm of more than 120 aquatic robots into Venice's lagoon and canals.

While it may sound like something out of a science fiction film, these self-driving robots are an important part of the city's efforts to combat climate change and pollution.

"Climate change, pollution, mass tourism, and invasive species are only some of the concerns facing the Venice lagoon," says Ronald Thenius, a researcher at the University of Graz (Austria) and a member of the subCULTron project. New issues necessitate new answers, and we believe that using robots is the most effective method to handle these unique difficulties."

Underwater robots in a swarm

The project's major purpose was to develop a cutting-edge instrument for monitoring the underwater habitats of big lake basins like Venice. The subCULTron system, on the other hand, was designed to provide spatially distributed monitoring, unlike traditional monitoring systems. This means it had to be able to measure multiple sites at the same time and over a long period of time. The researchers accomplished this by using a massive swarm of relatively small and affordable robots.

"This'swarm method' contrasts significantly with the more frequent practice of utilizing a large, expensive robot," Thenius says. Our technology makes it easier for the robot swarm to behave autonomously and decentralized by allowing us to acquire several measurements at the same time and from different locations."

According to Thenius, the robotic system's unique self-organizing architecture allows it to take measurements as well as react. If the algorithm judges that a particular measurement is no longer required, elements of the swarm can be automatically relocated to a more interesting location or the sampling rate in other areas changed.

Water lilies, mussels, and fish

aMussels (artificial mussels), aFish (artificial fish), and aPads (artificial pads) make up the subCULTron system (artificial water lilies). "The aMussels operate as the system's collective long-term memory," Thenius continues, "allowing information to persist beyond the runtime of the other types of robots." The natural habitat of lake fish, as well as other biological agents such as algae and bacteria, are monitored by these artificial mussels."

The aPads, on the other hand, float on the water's surface like genuine water lilies. These robots serve as the system's interface with human society, supplying the swarm with energy and information from the outside world. Between these two layers swim the aFish, which are fake fish that travel through the water, monitoring and inspecting the surroundings and transmitting the data to the mussels and artificial water lilies.

"As soon as the swarm "decides" that a site warrants greater attention, many aMussels emerge to be carried to the new site of interest through the aPads," Thenius explains. As a result, the swarm will be able to wander around the lagoon and examine various occurrences on its own."

Aside from the robots themselves, another significant outcome of the study is the novel method of powering the robots: sludge. "The unique proof of concept that an autonomous robot can be fuelled purely by microbial fuel cells is a big accomplishment," adds Thenius.

A microbial fuel cell is a bioelectrochemical device that uses bacteria and a high-energy oxidant, such as oxygen from a pond bed, to generate an electric current.

"Although this technology has been tried in several laboratories before, subCULTron was the first study to demonstrate that it can be used in the field by autonomous robots," Thenius says. This achievement paves the way for a plethora of new and exciting technologies and advances.

Article By Gerluxe Image: euronews

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