Marine exploration will become much easier now thanks to a brilliant duo of scientists who have devised a new way for marine wildlife interaction. A marine drone will be outfitted with squishy fingers, thus making sure that the samples which they bring back are intact.
David Gruber, a marine biologist hailing from the Baruch College has joined forces with Robert Wood, a robotic specialist from Harvard. Gruber is quite famous among the marine biologists, being the one who discovered a species of bioflorescent turtles. The marine biologist discovered this species of turtles in the Solomon Island.
Now, the tag team’s main aim is to develop a robotic arm capable of retrieving bio marine samples without damaging them. Recently, Gruber along with other took a great interest in studying the coral reef barrier. To study it in more detail, Gruber needs additional sample from the colony of corals.
Trouble is that you can’t just dive into the water, rip a hunk and coral and bring it back for study. First of all, a swimmer equipped with an oxygen tank can reach the colony because corals usually grow at high depths. The most logical approach to this problem is to use a submersible, a marine drone equipped with all the gear necessary in order to perform the search-and-retrieve mission.
But as reliable as marine drones are when it comes to performing precise operations they are quite clumsy. They may be good at picking up underwater pipes or rocks, but pretty lousy when it comes to retrieving fragile specimens such as pieces of corals.
A marine drone will be outfitted with squishy fingers in order to retrieve the underwater coral samples Gruber needs for his research. With the help of Woods, Gruber managed to devise two sets of hands for the marine drone. One of the hands is outfitted with a tentacle-like finger. It can coil around the fragile piece of coral and pick it up without a problem. The second type of hand designed for the drone resembles a pair of calipers, used for more precise operations.
Moreover, the team is thinking of outfitting each device with tactile sensors, in order to find out how much pressure can the piece of coral withstand. The researchers can use the sensors in combination with the drone’s camera in order to retrieve the coral sample without damaging it.
Of course, as in the case of any new gizmo, the marine drone outfitted with these devices will be submitted to more tests before it can be deemed marine ready and able.