Tech UPTechnologyA robot dives into underwater archeology

A robot dives into underwater archeology

Contemporary Luddites wonder what will become of humans if robots end up replacing us in all jobs , as new and more advanced applications of artificial intelligence emerge every day. The automation of tasks that humans have done so far can kill millions of jobs around the world, and it is without a doubt an issue that today’s society will have to weigh.


However, some of these applications leave no room for doubt: the use of robots in underwater exploration of the oceans is something eminently positive. This is the case of the OceanOne, a robot created by researchers at Stanford University (California, United States) that is capable of diving to depths that man could never reach due to our physical limitations .


This machine, with a humanoid body structure, represents a revolution for underwater research, both archaeological and the study of the marine environment. It is in the first field where he has just achieved great success: he has been able to recover a vessel from La Lune, the flagship of King Louis XIV (1638-1715) that sank in Mediterranean waters in 1664 and is now sunk. near Toulon (France), 100 meters deep.


Never before had anyone reached the wreck. The OceanOne achieved this guided by a team of engineers and archaeological experts led by Oussama Khatib , professor of Computer Science at Stanford University.


A new perceptual dimension


It measures 1.52 meters from end to end and its torso includes a head with stereoscopic vision that shows the pilot in high quality images what the robot is seeing exactly. Likewise, the OceanOne, powered by artificial intelligence, has two articulated arms, like its wrists , which are equipped with force sensors that, through haptic feedback systems (the term refers to perception through touch ), allow the human who pilots it from the surface to know if the robot is grasping something with force or delicacy and if the object is heavy or light.


“You can feel exactly what the robot is doing,” says Professor Khatib in a press release from his university. “It is almost as if you were there, with the sense of touch you can create a new dimension of perception,” he highlighted regarding the haptic feedback system. In fact, it is planned that over time all six fingers of the OceanOne (there are three on each hand) will be covered with touch sensors .


Following the success of this maiden voyage, Khatib is confident that OceanOne can carry out highly skilled underwater tasks too dangerous for human divers. The professor also believes that it will open a new world to ocean exploration. “OceanOne will be your avatar. The goal here is to have a virtual diver and put humans out of harm’s way . Having a humanoid machine that can do the work of a human diver at great depths is going to be incredible, “he stressed.


However, OceanOne will not only act in solo missions – it could do it in jobs such as deep-sea mining, underwater disaster performances or to reach depths that are forbidden to a person’s physical capacities – it is also planned that can carry out joint missions with human divers .


Image: Frederic Osada and Teddy Seguin / DRASSM


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