MIT designs submersible robots
Smuggling drugs on ships and boats has become more common these days and to fight such illicit activities, MIT has developed an underwater robot that will check the hull of ships to find traces of drugs.
Usually, drug smugglers hide the illegally obtained drugs in false hulls and propeller shafts. Although the authorities have the rights to check these spaces for illegal drugs, the smugglers also have enough time to hide away these at other places or even move them out of the ship. To tackle the issue, MIT has developed robots that could go underwater to check for drugs hidden away using ultrasound.
These robots are stealthy and it will be impossible to find if they are launched. The robot is currently in the prototype stage requiring further development. It is developed by a mechanical engineering student Sampriti Bhattacharyya.
The robot was built using a 3D printer and is in a oval shape with a flat bottom. It is very compact and stealthy and is smaller than a standard football. One half of its body is waterproof containing its electronic elements including a control circuitry, rechargeable lithium battery, inertial measurement unit and a communications antenna while the other half has three accelerometers and three gyroscopes to keep track of the positioning of the robot which is determined by its movements.
The permeable part has the propulsion system including six pumps that are hooked to a rubber output tube and two of the tubes come out through the backside which will push against the sides of the boat as they navigate through water. The other two tubes are at the left and right sides giving it the ability to propel forward and backward. It moves at a maximum speed of one meter per second and it is also capable of making tight turns.
Multiple robots can be deployed at the same time and they can coordinate with each other and can remain underwater for up to 40 minutes.