Over the course of the past decade, technology has become a key tool to help with ocean exploration. We have gone from days of divers being the only resource made available to ocean scientists, to being able to send tools, such as observation sensors and communication methods, underwater. With them, accurate readings can be taken of phenomenon that exist deep below the ocean’s surface. This technology is only expanding. In the past month, robot ocean exploration has taken a new form for one exploration team – literally. In order to explore a shipwreck that has not been touched since 1664, experts sent a robot resembling a mermaid to the scene.
This unique ocean explorer is called ‘OceanOne.’ It has, in robot form, the torso and head of a human, complete with a robotic ‘face’ and arms. The bottom of this device holds the bulk of its power and intelligence, which rests inside its mermaid ‘tail.’ This robot can be guided from a boat above and can complete tasks in the water that before could only be fathomable by a human.
For example, from shipwrecks that are inaccessible to, or too dangerous for, divers, this robot is able to retrieve artifacts. It is the perfect combination of artificial intelligence, clever mechanics, and sensory feedback to make it gentle with delicate artifacts. It is able to move the artifacts into a box and subsequently carry said box to the surface of the ocean.
The ‘OceanOne’ is a truly revolutionary addition to ocean exploration technology. Humans have, for years, been using artificial intelligence technology to explore the unknown waters of the world. However, none have had all of the capabilities of this new, bright orange ‘mermaid.’ The ‘OceanOne’ is the first diving robot to have many of the capabilities of a human diver, complete with flexibility and dexterity formerly unknown to robots.
Additionally, the engineers who designed ‘OceanOne’ have made it so the person controlling the robot can also feel what it feels. They installed force sensors in the robot’s hand that makes up an interface with which a human can feel what the ‘OceanOne’ is feeling at any given time during its exploration.
The ‘OceanOne’ is truly the smart robot that ocean explorers need in order to be able to move forward with their work. It can adjust to its environment automatically, changing direction or adjusting the pressure of its grip with no prompting from its controller. Having more of these available in the ocean exploration field would give explorers the ability to discover formerly unknown marts of the ocean without putting themselves or any of their team in danger. I am truly excited to see how this diving robot affects the ocean exploration industry!