Robot Ocean Gliders

Researchers are preparing to send forth a swarm of underwater gliders for a mission to explore the tropical Atlantic.  Information on temperature, salinity, oxygen and chlorophyll content as well as the turbidity of the sea water will be measured and sent back to the scientists at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) in Kiel, Germany. 

As reported on the website at IFM-GEOMAR,  “A very successful mission using a single glider took place between August and October 2009 in the Atlantic Ocean, south of the Cape Verde Islands. The robot carried out measurements along a more than 1000 kilometres long track autonomously, before it was recovered by the German research vessel METEOR. The data collected are accessible online at”

Now a fleet of these torpedo-like craft will venture out to document the ocean properties in the tropical Atlantic.  Read the entire story from TG Daily at the link below, and then see all other articles on this in the other stories link.

TG Daily

Europe's largest fleet of underwater robot gliders is about to embark on its first research mission in the tropical Atlantic. The gliders, operated by
See all stories on this topic

Robot gliders take to the seas
TG Daily
Fri, 15 Jan 2010 13:39:15 GMT

Recycled Robot Fish Teach Biology

After a holiday hiatus here on RobotNext, the posts return with this one on a robotic fish from recycled materials.  You can see the video at or click on the embedded link below for a small version.  The idea is to teach children about the movements of swimming fish.  I think this also teaches a valuable lesson on recycling materials before they end up in the ocean.  See the link below for the entire story and other videos. 

Recycled Robot Fish Teach Japanese Children About Sealife
Inhabitat (blog)
by MeredithDF, 01/13/10 Floating garbage has found its calling in these incredible sea creature robots hand-crafted by marine scientist and educator

Recycled Robot Fish Teach Japanese Children About Sealife – Inhabitat (blog)
(author unknown)
Wed, 13 Jan 2010 06:14:57 GMT

Tiny Swimming Robots Could Be Modeled After Spiral-shaped Bacteria

Spiroplasma is a type of spiral-shaped bacteria that travels in a corkscrew type motion.  It accomplishes this motion by sending kinks down the spiral of its cell structure.  And, it turns out this method of propulsion is very efficient.  Essentially, it is using its entire body as a propulsion unit.  This may prove to be a great method for nano-sized robots to get around in a fluid. 

Applications for this tiny machine come mainly in the field of medicine.  Small robots could deliver medicine directly to a targeted cell or perform very precise surgeries.  Some micro-robots have already been developed for this purpose, but these little bots could be much smaller.  Read more about this possible development in the article below.  Also, check out the full-sized animation on the site by clicking on the thumbnail below.


        Credit:  University of Connecticut

… design. The kinky motion of a primitive spiral-shaped bacterium in fluid could help design efficient swimming micro-robots of the future, according to a study by a team of UConn researchers. Professors Greg Huber and Charles Wolgemuth of the Richard …

Swimming Bacteria Could Become Model for Micromachines
(author unknown)
Mon, 21 Dec 2009 13:48:52 GMT

Robotic Bees Could Save Crops

In September, I posted a Weekly Newswrap with a story about robo-bees.  Now comes this story about robot bees that could help save agriculture from the coming disaster caused by the mysterious bee plague.  This is the disease that has wiped out over one-third of the bee population in the United States.  Some estimates of bee deaths are much higher.  If a cure cannot be found for this Colony Collapse Disorder, perhaps these mechanical bees can help save crops that require pollination.  These robotic bees would be developed from a robotic fly developed by Rob Wood at Harvard University.  Read more about these “beebots” in this article by Corey Binns from the Popular Science website.


Illustration Credit:  Graham Murdoch

That strategy led Gu-Yeon Wei to suggest that Rob Wood morph an almond-size robotic fly he had developed into a fleet of autonomous bees, each capable of carrying out specialized tasks. Perhaps, they speculated, the “RoboBees” could supplement the pollinating duties of bees stricken by a mysterious affliction that’s killed 36 percent of America’s 2.4 million hives. If you build the bee body, Wei told Wood, I can make the brain.

In the future, an autonomous robot could haul the hive from field to field. STEP 2: Survey the Landscape Scout RoboBees leave the hive first and use their ultraviolet sensors to locate the same UV patterns on flower petals that real bees look for.

Robotic Insects Could Pollinate Flowers and Find Disaster Victims – Popular Science
(author unknown)
Thu, 17 Dec 2009 15:09:00 GMT

Snakebot For Your Heart

A snakebot is being prepared to carry-out cardiac surgery by a team of doctors at Cardiorobotics.  Their version of the snakebot is known are ARM or Articulated Robotic Medprobe.  It is a teleoperated robot consisting of a series of links.  In an earlier post on August 10, 2009, I wrote about this snakebot for heart surgery being developed at the Newport, Rhode Island company.  Because of the snakebot’s ability to bend into many shapes, it is being developed to assist in delicate surgeries.  Check out the stories below.  You can see a video of the original version of this snakebot surgeon on You Tube.

Snakebot for Cardiac Surgery


The central element of our technology is a teleoperated probe consisting of a series of links.  The probe is highly flexible and thus either assumes the shape of its surroundings or can be reshaped. 

This teleoperated, highly articulated probe with a non-linear lumen is called an Articulated Robotic MedProbe or ARM™.

Cardiorobotics Closes $11.6M Series A Financing to Advance Clinical Development of Snake Robot for Surgery

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 11:38:00 GMT

Robotic Clam Developed for Deep Sea Projects

Of all the creatures on Earth that I thought could be models for robots, I never would have picked the clam.  But now, mechanical engineers Anette "Peko" Hosoi and Amos Winter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have done just that.  They chose to emulate the Atlantic razor clam, also known as the Atlantic Jackknife Clam (Ensis directus) because it is one of nature's best diggers.  Robot clams may one day help dig up and detonate buried underwater mines, researchers now reveal. They could also serve as smart anchors for robot subs or deep-sea oil drilling.  You can read more at in the article by Charles Q. Choi.


 Credit: Donna Coveney

A new Roboclam developed by scientists can help in deep sea drilling projects.

Robotic Clam Could Detonate Underwater Mines
(author unknown)
Tue, 01 Dec 2009 16:07:41 GMT

Robotic Rat Follow-up

Spotted this follow-up article on the Scratchbot covered here several months ago.  In this update, the robot is showing off its abilities to search-out objects by touch.  No vision system is used.  This is a very novel approach and could have many search and rescue applications where the lack of light is an issue.  Check out the link below and also look at the video at the Electronics Weekly website.


Credit:  Bristol Robotics Laboratory and University of Sheffield via

… to damage and injury than whiskers. Rats have the ability to operate with damaged whiskers, and broken whiskers on robots could be easily replaced, without affecting the whole robot and its expensive engineering. This award is a welcome recognition …

Robotic 'rat' could become a lifesaver
(author unknown)
Mon, 30 Nov 2009 11:40:44 GMT

Another Robotic Turkey

For your Thanksgiving weekend, here is another robotic turkey.  This one is intended to stop poachers looking for a free bird.  These robotic turkeys can be remotely controlled or even programmed to move on their own.  Of course, there are other robotic animals to entice the illegal hunters.  In addition to turkeys, there are robotic deer, elk, wolves, and others. See the previous post on robotic elk for details.

Robot turkey Photo Credit:  Custom Robotic Wildlife, Inc.

"Custom Robotic Wildlife, Inc. sells robot turkeys designed to entice would-be poachers. The $1,100 dollar robot turkeys can fan their tails and bob their heads and keep doing that even after catching a shotgun blast, although after it's hit you probably want to put on a new turkey skin and wait for it. Dressing sold separately."

Information from; was used in this post.


Robotic Turkeys Not Afraid of Thanksgiving

Robotic turkeys need not worry about ending up on someone's Thanksgiving table.  There is not much meat on those legs and the bird is just a bit tough to chew.  I found this old article on a robotic turkey when I did a search for a Thanksgiving topic for RobotNext.  So, in keeping with my on-going fascination about robots based on biology, this seemed like the perfect post.  The robot is called the Spring Turkey and it was the first walking robot developed at the MIT Leg Lab.  Check out the excerpt from the article from MIT.  Then follow the link for more information.

Spring-turkey (1) 

Photo Credit:  MIT Leg Laboratory

"Researchers at MIT's Leg Laboratory have built a series of legged robots… The first walking robot was Spring Turkey, which could only walk in circles attached to the end of a mechanical boom… Spring Turkey is a planar bipedal walking robot, designed and built by Peter Dilworth and Jerry Pratt. The robot was developed as an experimental platform for implementing force control actuation techniques, motion description and control techniques, and various walking algorithms."

For more information on Spring Turk go to the MIT Leg Lab.


Robots of the Future: Smart as a Bee?

"The bee, whose brain is a tiny as a sesame seed, already has better navigation abilities than even our best robots.”  So says University of Queensland School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering head, Professor Janet Wiles.  The scientists at this university are working to make robots able to navigate their surroundings by learning the environment around them.  Of course, animals and insects do this all the time.  The goal of the research is to develop a robot that can be a helper for humans in many areas.  No more programming the vacuum or setting out a virtual fence to help the robot get around the house.  It would do it by itself right out of the box. 


Photo Credit:

University of Queensland scientists are working on algorithms to help robots rapidly 'learn' about their environment. Scientists in Brisbane are blurring the line between biology and technology and creating a new generation of robot "helpers" more in …

2009 space odyssey: Brisbane maps robotic future – Sydney Morning Herald
(author unknown)
Wed, 18 Nov 2009 06:18:00 GMT