Innovative fish like robot to explore marine life in future

An
innovative robot looks like a fish to ride with marine life which gives a way
for deep ocean exploration in future as report published in Phys.org. Students
at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich are working on a
project that could deliver an ideal device for marine life filming, minus the
turbulence and appearance that could scare fish away. They are working on
Sepios, a nautical robot with fish-like appearance that would make it ideal for
closing in on fish. The device, they said, is a four-finned cuttlefish-inspired
robot, a distance away from classical nautical vehicles on the level of
manoeuvrability. They said “contrary to the cuttlefish, it uses four fins,
to maximize our goal of omnidirectionality.”

Image credit: ETH

Evan
Ackerman in IEEE Spectrum called out the robot’s advantages: “Cuttlefish
are highly manoeuvrable little critters, but Sepios is an upgrade, with four
independently controllable fins that allow it to rotate on any axis and
translate in any direction.” The students, at the Autonomous Systems Lab
at ETH Zurich, said the Sepios project is “riding the wave of
progress.” Last year, they took the robot sea diving in France.

The robot tested successfully in the sea, shown diving through sea grass and
attracting fish with its good-looking fins. Ackerman also commented on the
performance of the underwater: “Sepios has no trouble moving through dense
patches of sea grass, even in surge, which would be a tangled nightmare for any
underwater vehicle relying on propulsion systems that produce thrust by
spinning. It also generates a minimal amount of turbulence.” The body
length is 70 cm with a wingspan of 95 cm and weight of 22.7 kg. The top speed
of Sepios is 1.8 km/hr, with a maximum depth of 10 meters and battery life of
one hour and 30 minutes.


The robot is
fully assembled and almost operational. The use of four fins helps support
their goal of omnidirectionality. Each of these consists of nine rays, actuated
individually by servo motors via bevel gears. Each of these rays has a range of
270 degrees, and a fin can generate thrust in angled stances, for acrobatic
motions such as barrel rolls. Every fin has its own servo controller in charge
of all the servos. The four fins are attached to a single central base unit.
This, they said, contains the only other actuator, a swim bladder that helps
the robot stay on level depth and various sensors. “We took particular
care to make sure all the seals would hold to guarantee water tightness, as
this is often a very critical factor in the design of underwater robots.”


Their
project site discussed the challenges including precise control of the robot.
“The final version of the software is supposed to be controllable only by
a single 3D Connexion space mouse. The signal is then filtered and combined
with the data of our Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) to control the attitude of
the robot. The single force and torque vector is then split onto the individual
fins by an allocator which optimizes energy.” Most central to the project,
they added, was proof of omnidirectionality. “This we are trying to
achieve with the combination of an obstacle course and a mathematical
proof.”

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