Biomimetic robot carp scare the bejeezus out of me

Tom James @ 20-03-2009

copy-of-robot-fishI saw these robotic carp on the cover of today’s FT. Aside from looking scarily like the “Terror Fish” transport vessals of the Stingray villains the Aquaphibians this functional model looks splendid. Fortunately these fish will be using their powers for good, not evil:

Modelled on carp and costing about £20,000 ($29,000) each to make, the fish are to be lifelike in appearance and swimming behaviour so they will not alarm their fellow marine inhabitants.

The robots, the first of their kind, are equipped with tiny chemical sensors capable of detecting pollutants in the water. These let the fish home in on the sources of hazardous pollutants, such as leaks from vessels or undersea pipelines.

“Using shoals of robotic fish for pollution detection in harbours might appear like something straight out of science fiction [but] there are very practical reasons for choosing this form,” said Rory Doyle, senior research scientist at BMT Group. “In using robotic fish we are building on a design created by hundreds of millions of years’ worth of evolution which is incredibly energy efficient.

Each robotic fish is about 1.5 metres long and can swim at a maximum speed of about one metre per second. Whenever they find traces of pollutants, the fish can relay the information to the shore.

Absolutely fantastic.

[from the FT][image from here]


Strange squid caught on video: This is what ETs should look like

Tom Marcinko @ 25-11-2008

National Geographic News got the footage from Shell Oil, which was running a remote-operated vehicle about 200 miles off the coast of Houston, Texas.

In a few seconds of jerky camerawork, the squid appears with its huge fins waving like elephant ears and its remarkable arms and tentacles trailing from elbow-like appendages.

Despite the squid’s apparent unflappability on camera, Magnapinna, or “big fin,” squid remain largely a mystery to science.

Four species of Magnapinna have been discovered since 1998. They live about 4,000 feet (1,129 meters) deep. (BBC posted a video of one some years ago, but I can’t seem to find the link. They called it a “batsquid,” a term which seems to have been appropriated by H.P. Lovecraft fans)

[Photo: National Geographic via Shell Oil]


Raytheon in underwater UAV shocker

Tom James @ 27-10-2008

Kudos and congrats to the US military industrial complex for continuing to output such consistently high quality James-Bondworthy widgets and gizmos. The latest is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle from arms megacorp Raytheon that can be launched from a submarine without having to surface:

The new U-UAV is dubbed SOTHOC, for Submarine Over the Horizon Organic Capabilities. The launch system works by deploying a sealed can through the sub’s waste disposal lock. The can then sinks away safely to get clear of the boat. On reaching a preset depth it dumps weight to become positively buoyant and ascends to the surface. Once stable at the surface, it aligns itself into wind and launches a one-shot, disposable UAV.

Gawd bless America for supplying the rest of the worlds military hardware geeks with a consistent supply of goodness with no only minimal risk to our own person (unless you live in one of the Axis of Evil countries).

Peace out.

[from the Register][image from Ardyiii on flickr]


Professor Calculus’ submarine…

Tom James @ 04-09-2008

tintin_red_rackham\'s_treasureFans of Hergé‘s superlative graphic novels  The Adventures of Tintin will appreciate this creation of a dolphin speedboat that bears a strong resemblance to Professor Calculusshark (rather than dolphin) submersible in Red Rackham’s Treasure, from Ananova News:

The two-man £30,000 craft has been designed to mimic the shape of a dolphin and self-rights whenever it splashes down.

The mini-submarine has a top speed of 45mph over the surface of the water and half that when it dives under.

The 15ft fibre-glass machine can stay under for long periods as it has a snorkel that supplies air to its 1,500cc, 215hp marine engine.

Awesome!

[story via Slashdot][cover from Wikipedia]


Fancy living at sea?

Tomas Martin @ 05-10-2007

1483480507_66500ff5a0_m.jpgThis funky partly-submerged oddity is a design for a floating house, with five stories and enough room for six people. Featuring a bathroom and guest room slightly underwater and a lower level observation room for looking into the ocean depths, this would be a room fitting of many a sf or Bond villain! It even includes an electrical generator and enough storage for weeks of food and water. The entire structure is plastic, fibreglass and acrylic but will cost potential buyers a cool $2.5 Millon, which isn’t actually that much compared to a lot of mansions these days.

[via Neatorama, photo by sub-find]