Robotic buoy to fight sea pollution
The good people at Osaka University has come up with a prototype of a robotic buoy that has a very specific and special purpose in life – it is meant to combat sea pollution in the event of large scale environmental disasters the world has known as oil spills. The prototype known as SOTAB (Spilled Oil Tracking Autonomous Buoy) is but a 110kg GPS-equipped robot. It will feature a cylindrical buoy length of 2.7m and a diameter of 27cm, and the whole idea is to have these buoys installed aboard oil tankers, enabling them to be dropped into the sea automatically whenever there is an accident. Unfortunately, oil tankers will have to be a whole lot more vigilant and careful for the next three years (at least) since it will take that amount of time at best to roll out from the laboratory.
Designed by Naomi Kato, professor of submersible robotic engineering at the Department of Naval Architecture at Osaka University, Japan, this buoy is said to “conduct education and research on underwater robotics, biomechanics on aquatic animals and its application to engineering, computational hydrodynamics of viscous flow fields.” Sounds like a whole lot of scientific gibberish, but basically translated into layman’s terms, the robot will be able to keep track of the oil slick whether by day or at night, as it features four very sensitive cameras that are able to look out for the black shadow cast by oil above it (the robot will remain submerged at about 10m), while maintaining this vigilance when the sun has gone down simply by turning on its lights. Data such as speed of the current, water temperature, wind direction and wind velocity along with the help of GPS enables the robot to let humans know just where the oil slick is heading.
Can’t they like, hurry up already? God knows the world needed something like this many years back.