Don’t Get Bitten by One of These This Summer!


Watch where you’re swimming while on vacation this summer so as not to run into one of these giant jellyfish!  Mechanical engineers at Virginia Tech have been busy developing an autonomous underwater robot that looks just like a jellyfish and acts like one too.  It moves about just like the real thing in all depths and temperature ranges.  The 170-pound robo-jellyfish prototype named Cyro can be used to “monitor ocean currents or enemy combatants, study aquatic life, or map the sea floor” (Prism Magazine).  The project is funded by the US Navy.

Likewise, here at McGill, engineers from McGill’s Mobile Robotics Lab, School of Computer Science and the Centre for Intelligent Machines, along with partners at York University and Dalhousie University, have been busy developing their own autonomous underwater robot called the AQUA Robot that uses its six flippers to swim.  Like Cyro, the AQUA Robot can be used for studying marine habitats.  It “can explore underwater environments and gather data with minimum disturbance of the indigenous marine life” (The AQUA Project).

Watch how it moves here.

Perhaps you’ll have a chance to see the AQUA Robot live in action by participating in McGill’s Barbados Field Study Semester where it is known to swim in the clear, warm waters off the coast of the Bellairs Research Institute in Holetown, Barbados.

Even if your vacation doesn’t take you to any exotic locations this summer, you might still have a chance to spy the AQUA Robot at the McGill Athletics swimming pool where it performs its tests.  And if that’s not enough, you can even buy one of your own!

Happy and safe swimming this summer with or without the underwater robot!

Image from Prism Magazine

Now in the realm of the possible: the 10-dollar robot has a story about the winners of the AFRON “10 Dollar Robot” Design Challenge, run by the African Robotics Network (AFRON). The object of the contest was to see what sorts of design ideas would arise, in the hope of creating really affordable robots for educational use in Africa (and elsewhere), similar to what Raspberry Pi aims to do for computing.

“The contest had a few simple restrictions, including the loose $10 target; entrants from around the world had to build a prototype, offer instructions on a website, and make the whole plan open-source, software included. The winners were little, an inch or two in size and up, never more than a foot long. They were sourced from cardboard, old cell phones, and circuit boards. They performed simple tasks: navigating, following lines, even communicating with each other.”

Kilobot from Harvard University, introduced in the video below, was the winner in the Traditional (Roaming) Category.

[Video link]

These $10 Robots Will Change Robotics Education