A new robotic device created to explore aquatic creatures has proven that it is capable of capturing even the most delicate animals on the seabed. For this, it has a kind of foldable “claw” formed by 12 sides, which closes holding the body without hurting it.
It is estimated that there are about one million marine species that have not yet been discovered in the oceans, especially in the deeper areas. Many of these animals are gelatinous and very fragile. It is difficult to capture them for analysis without damaging them.
For this, the device was created, which received the nickname of RAD. More precisely, it is a dodecahedron, that is, a polyhedron of twelve faces, developed by researchers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, and several other institutions.
When the “hand” of the handset is fully open, it does not seem capable of doing much. But when folded, through mechanisms that push each of the dodecahedron faces, the device forms a “cage”, imprisoning animals inside.
This device is controlled by a joystick and performs the task without causing any harm to the body it captures. The RAD, inspired by origami, aims to offer a more “delicate” way of taking samples of marine life for analysis.
David Gruber, a biologist at New York City University, said in a statement that these animals are approached “as if they were works of art.”
Would we cut pieces of the Mona Lisa to study it? No, we use the most innovative tools available. These seabed organisms, some thousands of years old, deserve to be treated with similar kindness when we are interacting with them.
His first test occurred at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, where he successfully captured and released a jellyfish. After a few minor adjustments, the RAD was attached to an underwater vehicle and shipped to Monterey Canyon off the coast of California.
Controlled remotely, he captured and released specimens such as squid, octopus – he was particularly curious about the device – and jellyfish.
One of the great allies of the RAD is its 12-sided structure. According to mechanical engineer Zhi Ern Teoh, the design “is perfect for the difficult environment of the deep ocean because its controls are very simple, so there are fewer elements that can break.”
In addition, being a modular device allows parts to be easily replaced, if necessary. In addition, the foldable design is also suitable for use in space, which is “similar to the deep ocean because it is an inhospitable and low gravity environment that makes the operation of any device challenging,” explains the engineer.
In future versions, the RAD can count on built-in cameras, touch sensors and even DNA sequencing technologies. Thus, in addition to capturing creatures, RAD can conduct its own research on marine life.
Will in the future even more distant the device be integrated with this artificial intelligence that learns to perform tasks through our brain waves?
Source: Science Mag