Stanford Developed Robot Diver Goes Where No Man Has Gone Before

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Autonomous Robot Diver Takes To The Sea.

It seems that technology is going to let us explore places that either are too dangerous or too expensive for humans to go. At the same time are we giving up the thrill of personal exploration and the spirit of discovery that has pushed mankind to where it is today?

I have been scuba diving since the age of sixteen and there is a real thrill that comes from entering into areas that you have never been and looking for things that maybe have never been seen by humans before.There is also the thrill of the danger ( this is less appealing as I get older) that is very real with every dive you make. It is very unnerving to be diving a wreck deep in lake Ontario knowing that three divers died doing just this thing one year earlier. Honestly the danger takes much of the fun out of it.

Robot Divers and A.I. Science

Now thanks to advanced robotics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence we can send robot divers ( minus the SCUBA tanks since they do not need air) to just about anywhere we want.

A robot diver does not need air, food or water. It does not have to take breaks ( as long as the power supply is sufficient), does not suffer from the bends or start talking to the fish due to nitrogen narcosis. It does not have to decompress or switch to exotic gases to head into very deep waters. In fact a robot diver is most likely the best way to explores extreme depths. It also does not need a buddy but having a team of robot divers ( a school?) would be able to cover a lot of ground.

Stanford University sees this the same way as we do. Robot divers mixed with A.I. so they are autonomous, plus virtual reality for humans to be fully immersed in the experience, is the way to go!

The robot, called OceanOne, is powered by artificial intelligence and haptic feedback systems, allowing human pilots an unprecedented ability to explore the depths of the oceans in high fidelity.

OceanOne will not be the last robot diver

OceanOne will not be the last robot diver

OceanOne, a bimanual underwater humanoid robot with haptic feedback allows human pilots an unprecedented ability to explore the depths of the oceans in high fidelity. In collaboration with DRASSM, Ocean One embarked on the Andre Malraux to explore the wreck of La Lune, 100 meters below the Mediterranean. The flagship of King Louis XIV had sunk here, 20 miles off the southern coast of France, in 1664, and no human had explored its ruins or the countless treasures and artifacts the ship once carried in the centuries since it sank.

On April 15, Ocean One recovered a grapefruit-size vase and returned it to the ship deck to the excitement of the archaeologists, engineers, and scientists who crowded around him.

OceanOne robot diver can take fully electric tools with them

OceanOne robot diver can take fully electric tools with them

The expedition to La Lune was OceanOne’s maiden voyage, and based on its astonishing success, it’s hoped that the robot will one day take on highly-skilled underwater tasks too dangerous for human divers, as well as open up a whole new realm of ocean exploration.

The concept for OceanOne was born from the need to study coral reefs deep in the Red Sea, far below the comfortable range of human divers. No existing robotic submarine can dive with the skill and care of a human diver, so OceanOne was conceived and built from the ground up, a successful marriage of robotics, artificial intelligence and haptic feedback systems.

Is a robot diver taking all the fun out of exploring?

Khatib, a professor of computer science at Stanford,

OceanOne looks something like a robo-mermaid. Roughly five feet long from end to end, its torso features a head with stereoscopic vision that shows the pilot exactly what the robot sees, and two fully articulated arms. The “tail” section houses batteries, computers and eight multi-directional thrusters.

Testing OceanOne robot diver in the pool

Testing OceanOne robot diver in the pool

The body looks far unlike conventional boxy robotic submersibles, but it’s the hands that really set OceanOne apart. Each fully articulated wrist is fitted with force sensors that relay haptic feedback to the pilot’s controls, so the human can feel whether the robot is grasping something firm and heavy, or light and delicate. (Eventually, each finger will be covered with tactile sensors.) The ‘bot’s brain also reads the data and makes sure that its hands keep a firm grip on objects, but that they don’t damage things by squeezing too tightly. In addition to exploring shipwrecks, this makes it adept at manipulating delicate coral reef research and precisely placing underwater sensors.

“You can feel exactly what the robot is doing,” Khatib said.

It’s almost like you are there; with the sense of touch you create a new dimension of perception.

I little further TeK-ThinKing……….Military applications for the robot diver

Next we need to see if robot divers can work with human divers in teams. At least until artificial intelligence science brings us closer to a thinking robot humans will need to be close by.

As with all thinks tech, there is no doubt that entities like the super secretive research arm of the U.S. military ( DARPA ) is not also looking at these robotic frogmen. These divers produce no tell tale bubbles, and have very few logistical restrictions. I wonder what the military version of a robot diver looks like? With or without cloaking tech….

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