Sea Pollution Fought By Robotic Buoy
Posted on August 4, 2008 by Jamie Slaughter, with 18010 views
Osaka University have engineered a sophisticated new robotic buoy which aims to minimise sea pollution. The robot aims to reduce oil spillages aboard oil tankers. The prototype, termed SOTAB (Spilled Oil Tracking Autonomous Buoy), is a 110Kg GPS-enabled robot which measures 2.7m in length and 27cm in diameter. The concept allows the robot to be dropped into the sea automatically when an oil spillage occurs. Unfortunately the robotic buoys will not be instilled for a further three years, as it will take that duration of time to develop them from the labs into productive use.
Naomi Kato, professor of Submersible Robotic Engineering in the department of Naval Architecture, developed the system and has described it as able to "conduct education and research on underwater robotics, biomechanics on aquatic animals and its application to engineering, computational hydrodynamics of viscous flow fields.
In layman's terms this essentially translates into the fact that the buoy can monitor the oil flow by day or night via four highly sensitive cameras designed to pick up on black shadows caused by oil leaks. The robot will stay submerged at 10metres, and during the night its lights will be turned on to offer 24 hour monitoring.
The buoy will record speed of the current, water temperature, wind direction and velocity which will be computed and humans will be informed of the extent of the leak and which direction and how fast the leak is spreading. Sounds like a great idea, and will definitely be put into good use in three years time. It's just a shame it has taken so long for such a product to be engineered.