Robo-Arm Cleans Ocean Depths

Robo-Arm does underwater robotic exploration and ocean clean-up operations while reducing harm to marine life.

Today‘s oceans contain many millions of tons of waste, of which more than 90% is found on the sea floor. So far, efforts to collect the waste are mainly concentrated on surface waste, with only a few local efforts to gather underwater waste, always involving human divers.

An artificial skin is helping a robot to recognise the difference between picking up inanimate objects and living sea creatures such as starfish and shellfish. That sense of touch could prove useful in cleaning up the ocean, doing underwater exploration or even carrying out deep-sea mining on the seafloor.

 Robo-Arm Cleans Ocean Depths
Tactile Marvel of Robot: Robo-Arm Cleans Ocean Depths picking up inanimate objects and living sea creatures. 5

Robots have historically served as the go-to solution for tasks deemed too challenging or perilous for human intervention. A groundbreaking stride in robotics is presently reshaping the landscape of underwater exploration. A pioneering artificial skin, seamlessly integrated into the robotic arm, empowers it with the ability to differentiate between lifeless objects and living marine organisms such as starfish and shellfish.

This notable advancement holds the potential to revolutionize endeavors in ocean cleanup, elevate the efficacy of underwater exploration, and potentially facilitate deep-sea mining ventures on the ocean floor.

The functionality of the artificial skin hinges on the magnetoelastic effect—a phenomenon denoting alterations in the magnetic field of materials when subjected to pressure or tension.

Distinct from conventional sensors, this effect remains impervious to the challenges posed by underwater environments. Leveraging the distinctive attributes of the magnetoelastic effect, the artificial skin on the robotic arm adeptly distinguishes between diverse objects, enabling precision and finesse in manipulation.

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Tactile Marvel of Robot: Robo-Arm Cleans Ocean Depths picking up inanimate objects and living sea creatures. 6

The RAD sampler (Wyss Institute at Harvard University)

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Tactile Marvel of Robot: Robo-Arm Cleans Ocean Depths picking up inanimate objects and living sea creatures. 7

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Q: What is the magnetoelastic effect?


A: The magnetoelastic effect describes the changes that occur in the magnetic field of materials as they are pushed and pulled. More specifically, it refers to the alterations in magnetic properties induced by mechanical stress.

Q: How does the Robo-arm artificial skin benefit underwater exploration?


A: The artificial skin enables the robot to differentiate between inanimate objects and living sea creatures, contributing to various underwater applications such as ocean cleanup, scientific research, and deep-sea mining.

Q: What are the potential applications of this Robo arm technology?


A: This groundbreaking development could be instrumental in advancing ocean cleanup efforts, enhancing the accuracy of underwater exploration missions, and opening doors for efficient and responsible deep-sea mining operations.

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