Wednesday, February 23, 2022

A soft, snailfish-inspired robot was able to swim in the Mariana Trench.

 

snailfish inspired robot

Inspired by the Mariana Trench snail fish, this Chinese robot has been able to swim autonomously and self-propel to a depth of nearly 11,000 meters. Although its capabilities are currently limited, its designers believe that the flexible, soft, and lightweight design can lay the groundwork for underwater robotics in extreme conditions.

To date, the depths of the ocean trenches are the most unexplored territory for humans. Because conventional ships and submarines must be encased in heavy metal casings that make it difficult for their integrated electronics to function at pressures ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 meters deep, the high hydrostatic pressure exerted by the water prevents them from operating properly.

For years, scientists have been studying how certain soft-bodied living creatures, such as octopuses and jellyfish, can withstand such harsh living conditions. A team of scientists has developed a soft silicone robot capable of swimming autonomously at a depth of 10 kilometers, inspired by the structure of the Mariana Trench snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei).

"The design of the robot allowed it to swim freely at depths of 3,224 meters in the South China Sea and 10,900 meters in the Mariana Trench. Our research demonstrates the feasibility of developing soft, lightweight devices for use in harsh environments "According to the authors of the study, which was published in the journal Nature.

Snailfish impersonation

 


 
The Mariana snailfish, discovered at a depth of 8,000 meters, has "surprising" adaptability and mobility, according to the authors, who are from several Chinese universities. The mechanical design of the robot, which shares visual similarities with its partially open skull and pectoral fins, was guided by its partially open skull and pectoral fins.

The soft, flexible robot is shaped like a fish and has two lateral fins. These are connected to the robot's two electrode "muscles," which are in turn connected to a battery. When the muscles receive electrical power, they contract, causing a flapping motion that drives the machine's movement.

When its muscles receive electrical energy, they contract, resulting in flapping that drives the machine's movement.

According to its designers, the electronic components of this type of underwater machine are usually centralized in the same area to cover them and protect them from pressure more efficiently. The researchers decided to decentralize them and distribute them along the body of the robot, embedded in soft silicone, with this robot. This reduces the stress between the under-pressure components while also lowering costs.

The positive results prompted the scientists to put the robot through its paces in the South China Sea, at a depth of around 3,200 meters, where it swam at 5.19 cm/s.

As a final test, they submerged the robot at a depth of 10,900 meters in the Mariana Trench. On this occasion, the device was not detached from the lander, but remained permanently attached to the conventional support submarine, which photographed the test. During the 45-minute test, the robot flapped successfully.

"This soft robot can swim freely under hydrostatic pressures of up to 110 megapascals (MPa)," the researchers claimed in the study. Despite this finding, the researchers emphasize that there is still much work to be done in this field.

Future research will concentrate on the development of new materials and structures to improve the intelligence, versatility, maneuverability, and efficiency of robots and soft devices.

They have created a machine that is much slower than conventional submarines. It is not designed to withstand major disruptions and may be swept away by underwater currents. Furthermore, its locomotive capability must be optimized for practical applications, they add.

Deep-sea exploration, on the other hand, can be used for ocean monitoring, cleanup and prevention of marine pollution, and biodiversity conservation, according to the authors.

"Future work will concentrate on the development of new materials and structures to improve the intelligence, versatility, maneuverability, and efficiency of robots and soft devices," they write.

 

Article Author Gerluxe 

Image: youtube

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