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IIT researchers create marine robot for underwater operations- Republic World

Marine Robot | Image:Flickr

IIT Mandi and Palakkad researchers have developed a marine robot with the ability to deal with real-life scenarios during underwater operations, also reducing the cost of maintainace and death at the time of such events.

Partly funded by the Naval Research Board (NRB) of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the research was published in the Journal of Intelligent and Robotic Systems, as well as of Ocean Engineering.

Developed for intricate underwater monitoring and inspections, the state-of-the-art robot assures heighened efficiency as well as minimised risks and potential cost savings, as per the researchers.

The Earth’s surface is approximately covered 71 per cent by water, as oceans engulf about  96.5 per cent of all the Earth’s water. Humans are familiar with only a very small portion of the ocean floor and the submerged ecosystem.

“As understood from history, the ocean interior has been mainly observed using instruments lowered from research ships,” Jagadeesh Kadiyam, Assistant Professor, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at IIT Mandi was quoted as saying.

Kadiyam, who has co-authored the study, said typical ship cruises lasted a month or two, which limits the detail monitoring of oceans.

“It is often said that ocean variables do not wait for the ship to come for measurements,” he pointed out.

The issue of under-sampling and the higher cost of these observation platforms call for technologies providing longer observation times at a lower cost through spatial and temporal density, as per Kadiyam.

He also highlighted how infrastructure safety is a global concern with ageing dams and increased environmental stresses, which increases the importance of more advanced inspection methods. Traditional approaches for inspection involve human diverse, posing a risk as well as constraints on time and expense, he added.

“Integrating marine robots into dam inspection procedures offers a safer, cost-effective, and technologically advanced solution,” Kadiyam said.

The recent open-water reservoir field trials represent a significant development in the level of maturity of underwater vehicle technology.

“Our research focuses on the prototype development and performance investigations of an underwater vehicle for intervention and inspection applications. A novel framework has been designed and implemented to cater to the various missions in the oceans and inland waters,” he said.

According to the professor, a number of models and experimental results have demonstrated the system’s performance in the face of outside disruptions such water currents and different payloads.

Since new technologies are being developed and existing infrastructure is being rapidly expanded for either civic or defense purposes, the number of submerged structures has been continually on the rise. As such, it is imperative to conduct frequent inspection, upkeep, and repair of these structures.

Earlier, underwater jobs were undertaken by human divers, posing a long-term effect on health. But the deployment of underwater vehicles can reduce human intervention.

Santhakumar Mohan, Professor at IIT-Palakkad highlighted the challenges faced by researchers in developing marine robots.

“From research point of view, the marine robotics community faces numerous challenges due to the uncertain aquatic environment and disturbances. Communication underwater is still tricky as it predominantly depends on acoustics since the radio waves are hard to pass through the water medium. As this is a niche area, the component cost of the vehicles is also high,” Mohan said.

(With PTI Inputs)

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