Underwater turtle shaped robot that can perform marine operations

With an aim of helping scientists in underwater tasks, engineers from Singapore have created smart turtle robot that can conduct many marine operations including cable inspections, checking underwater pipes, ship hull or a propeller’s shaft.

A team led by an Indian-origin scientist, Associate Professor S K Panda from the National University of Singapore have underwater robots that resemble water living species. One prototype looks like a turtle; three resembles different species of fish and fifth is a spherical model similar to a jellyfish.

“We expect to invent robots capable of performing collaborative intervention missions three to five years down the road. What we plan to do in the near future is to develop fish with muscles, which can undulate the way real fish do,” said Associate Prof Panda.

The newly designed Turtle robot is unique as it does not use ballast system like other similar robots to submerge in water. This significantly reduces the weight of the robot. Thus, the smaller and lighter NUS models can boast installation of more sophisticated and advanced components like camera or some other peripherals. Moreover, these light robots are energy efficient and can be used for complicated tasks and can carry larger payloads. These robots can make rapid vertical sinks and deep dives, making it capable of underwater surveillance.

In addition to such capabilities, scientists have been able to make the NUS turtle a self-charging machine. Thus, once send to a mission it does not need to return to the base station for a recharge. Spherical shaped robot can generate power from underwater currents.

Scientists are looking forward to developing further and increase the use of these unique robots in marine operations. “In the future, we can have a swarm of tiny turtles that communicate with each other and act collaboratively to perform their duties. With improved manoeuvrability they can go to tiny and narrow places like crevices where bigger vessels are unable to do so,” said Professor S K Panda.

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