Fraunhofer Institute Researchers to Develop Diving Robots

A group of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute's Application Center System Technology are working on developing a new range of diving robots, which are so independent when compared to the current autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).

Dr Thomas Rauschenbach, from the Fraunhofer Institute's Application Center System Technology, has stated that the diving robots can obtain information on their own and can collect samples before arriving at their preliminary points. He added that at present this technology involves increased cost-overheads to perform usual tasks like dams and bulkheads inspection.

Rauschenbach feels that these constraints can be eliminated since his team of scientists is researching to develop automated underwater robots that are more compact, strong and cost-effective than the earlier versions. In addition, these robots can be deployed in several types of water as well as in any aquatic environment. For instance, the robot can inspect the low concrete bases that hold the offshore wind power stations.

Scientists from different research areas of the Fraunhofer Institute are developing different constituents of the robot. One of the research groups are developing ‘eyes’ and visual assessment is by means of a unique exposure and analysis technology. This innovative technology will enable the diving robot to accustom itself to muddy water.

The distance of the robot from the object will be initially ascertained by the robot’s eye before releasing a laser impulse by a built-in camera. The laser light gets reflected by the object and within microseconds, the reflected light will reach the robot. The aperture will be opened by the camera and the pulses of the reflected beam will be captured by the sensors.

Another team of scientists is creating the ‘brain’ for helping the robot to maintain its track even in high currents. In the meantime, a fourth group of experts is developing the silicone envelope of ultrasound sensors for ‘ear’ and electronic circuits, for enabling the robot to perform inspection operations.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology have created a distinct energy management system for low power consumption and to assure that all information are recorded in an emergency unit before the robot reaches the surface or before running out of energy.

It was reported that a torpedo-resembling archetype diving robot featuring eyes, ears, brain, motor and batteries will be tested in a tank measuring a depth of 3 m. Next year, the self diving robot will be tested from a research cruise in deep sea and will be subjected to several test dives up to 6000 meters of depth.

Source: http://www.fraunhofer.de

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