Amphibious Aquapod Uses Tumbling Action to Travel, Monitor Waterways (Video)
Image via YouTube video screengrab
The University of Minnesota's Center for Distributed Robotics has come up with a lovably awkward amphibious robot that can be used to monitor fish populations, even in ice-covered waters. The Aquabot is equipped with two arms that allow it to tumble over itself, traveling along land and swimming through water by maneuvering these arms and flipping itself end over end. IEEE Spectrum reports that the robot can even adjust its buoyancy so it can swim at different levels within the water column.
While it looks a little clumbsy, the method of movement actually allows the robot to get through difficult landscapes, including sand and bramble-covered beaches. The creators state, "By actively involving the body of the robot in the locomotion it can scale larger obstacles and will not get stuck in compliant terrain like similar sized wheeled robots." Check it out in action:
The research team plans to add solar components to the Aquapod, making it self-charging. This will make it capable of staying out in the water for longer periods of time to gather more data. The odd but robust robot could be used for anything from monitoring water quality to deploying environmental sensors to monitoring fish populations. As IEEE notes, it could even use this tumbling action to travel along frozen-over lakes and rivers, using it's arms to move it along the underside of ice as it monitors the environment.
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