Searching shipwrecks can be a dangerous job. The broken husks of long sunken ships hide many secrets and mysteries, but also many dangers. Even the most experienced diver can encounter difficulties when trying to explore these long forgotten treasures of the deep sea. However, a new ingenious device could be the key to safety, without spoiling the thrill of the discovery. A new robot called U-CAT is small enough to fit easily in any nook and cranny of a shipwreck.
The U-CAT was built bearing a turtle in mind. It has four mechanical flippers that allow it to hover and turn in place. Moreover, it can swim both forward and backward.
Until now, robotic vehicles have been too big and bulky for exploration. They were powered with the help of a tether, a fact that limited their reach. Their propellers disturbed the water and beat up slit from the bottom of the ocean, thus decreasing visibility. The U-Cat’s fins move with ease in the water, blending perfectly without disturbing anything.
The robot was created by Taavi Salumäe, researcher at the Centre for Biorobotics at the Tallinn University of Technology, in Estonia. The U-Cat also comes with a camera that can be used to take photos of the wreck. With them, researchers can decide which areas they wish to target in a future exploration.
Another good thing about the U-Cat is that, compared to other robots, it is relatively cheap. The robot is not perfect by any means. It can still get lost or stuck in places that are too narrow for it. As a result, with an affordable price, if researchers lose an U-Cat they will not have great problems buying another one. The robot will first be tested in the Baltic Sea and later in the Mediterranean. If it works, more such robots might be designed for underwater discovery.
Do you think the U-Cat is the answer to making shipwreck explorations safer?
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