Miniature robotic submarines to explore the bottom of our ocean

Sustainability Problem: Water Resources/Also relates to energy and health

Only 5% of the ocean has been explored yet it feeds over 2 billion and provides more than 50% of our oxygen. The shape of the ocean floor helps determine weather patterns, when and where tsunamis will strike and management of fisheries that feed millions. Ocean exploration can also help us evaluate the potential environmental impacts of ocean mining and whether to authorize mining to proceed. Ocean exploration technologies today, from human divers to satellites and autonomous underwater vehicles, cannot scale to gather information necessary to increase our understanding of the ocean’s potential. Therefore, there is an enormous need for new technologies for ocean exploration that can be scalable, cheaper and survive the extraordinary physical challenges – water’s weight and pressure, unknown risks, lack of visibility – of the ocean.

Technology: Marine Bees

marinebees

  • Eua’ligo is one of 21 semi-finalists of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE Competition. The team is working to launch a horde of miniature robotic submarines, called Marine Bees, that mimic the coordinated operations of a hive of bees to efficiently explore and image the ocean floor up to 4000m deep in less than 24 hours.
  • Once the Marine Bees dive under the water, Eua’ligo has no control over them. They are totally autonomous and independent even though they gain their strength in numbers, like bees. They bring back data and images.
  • They have many features of full sized Autonomous Underwater Vehicles but are smaller and cheaper. The advantage comes from putting hundreds of these small and simple robotic submarines together, providing low cost exploration and scalability.
  • The submarines were designed to be ultra-small to withstand the sea floor’s immense pressures, and self-learning to guide themselves in an environment no one has visited.

Stakeholders:

  • Universities and research centers
  • Oceans, fisheries and coastal economies and industries
  • Ocean mining companies

Implementation:

  1. Conduct deep-sea tests to ensure that the technology survives physical challenges of the ocean and meets the criteria of good resolution, bathymetric map accuracy, etc.
  2. If deep-sea tests are successful, develop a business plan and potentially partner with governments.
  3. It is important to discuss responsibilities that come from mapping the ocean. Mining industries, for example, will seek profit in the previously unattainable depths of the ocean.

Sources:

Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE Website

Eua’ligo Website


Suellen Aguiar – ss5195

 

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