In the near future, it would be possible to produce a swarm of autonomous tiny robotic sea turtles and fishes for example, to perform hazardous missions such as detecting nuclear wastes underwater or other tasks too dangerous for humans, researchers said.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) team's turtle robot, besides being manoeuvrable, can also go about determinedly performing what it is set out to do, while being able to react to exigencies and obstacles.
The team led by Associate Professor S K Panda is putting the final touches to a robotic sea turtle which could move about underwater, including diving to deeper depths vertically, like a real turtle, by just using its front and hind limb gait movements.
Being smaller and lighter would also enhance its energy efficiency. The NUS turtle robot is also able to self-charge, further reducing the need for it to return to base station for recharging. It is agile and able to turn sharp corners with small radius, without losing speed.
Researcher Abhra Roy Chowdhury said the team has designed and developed four other underwater prototypes - a spherical robot that mimics a puffer fish in structure but uses a jet propulsion technique similar to jellyfishes and squids; and three robotic fishes of different morphologies.
These robots are scalable, modular and possess stealth (ability to avoid detection) features.

Another member of the team, Bhuneshwar Prasad, has also developed a spherical robot. This robot can be used for oceanic surveys, inspections of pipe and cable, inspection of a ship hull or a propeller's shaft, for example.

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