SILVER2 Aquatic Robot Walks, Hops, and Bounds Across Sea and River Beds

Moving on six legs, the robot can operate autonomously or under pilot control for up to seven hours of active movement or 16 of observation.

Gareth Halfacree
13 days agoRobotics

Scientists at the BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna and Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn have released videos of an autonomous walking robot designed to explore the seabed — and capable of hopping over obstacles in its path.

Brought to our attention by TechXplore, SILVER2 is the successor to SILVER: the Seabed Interaction Legged Vehicle for Exploration and Research. The original SILVER, demonstrated by the same team two years earlier, was designed to walk across the seabed rather than float submerged like a traditional remote-operated underwater vehicle.

SILVER2 upgrades the concept with additional mobility, a new leg stabilisation system, internal navigation capabilities, a pressure sensor, contact sensors, cameras, and microphones — the latter of which showed that the robot is remarkably quiet in use, and less disturbing to the local fauna than alternative underwater robots.

In testing, SILVER2 has proven its worth in a variety of environmental conditions and in both piloted and autonomous operation modes. It can run for around seven hours of locomotion, extending to 16 hours standing still and simply recording, and the researchers claim its design makes it ideal for low-impact long-term monitoring and observation.

The team's work has been published in the journal Science Robotics, under closed-access terms.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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