Scientists at the National University of Singapore are working to develop a robot based on the biological structures of sea turtles to study water quality, according to TreeHugger. The robot will be designed to carry sensors and get its power from solar panels.
The robot will swim much like an actual turtle does with flippers. And it won’t have a ballast system for propulsion, which researchers believe will help to make it lighter and more efficient.
After development of the base model, scientists plan to scale up capabilities by coordinating swarms of the robotic turtles in monitoring applications.
“We can have a swarm of tiny turtles which communicate with each other and act collaboratively to perform their duties,” said S.K. Panda, associate professor at the university, to TreeHugger. “With improved maneuverability, they can go to tiny and narrow places like crevices where bigger vessels are unable to do so.”
Such swarms could one day be useful in studying things humans can’t do safely, researchers note. These include monitoring applications in oil spills, nuclear pollution or the ocean’s deepest depths.
Top image: Scientists at the National University of Singapore are using sea turtles as the basis for a new water quality robot. (Credit: National University of Singapore)