New autonomous robot provides detailed ocean health data

  • Engineers at the University of California in San Diego have created an autonomous diving robot technology that can travel the oceans and provide a constant stream of data with vital indicators of ocean health.

    How do you track the health of the world's largest oceans to measure depletion of fish stocks, ocean acidification, and destructive algal bloom? It turns out that the biggest indicators of problems in aquatic biodiversity come from some of the smallest creatures that live in the oceans: Zooplankton.

    These tiny creatures are abundant throughout the oceans, floating openly in oceanic flows and forming an integral part of the food chain. A problem with Zooplankton is a problem for the health of the entire ocean, but it can be difficult to collect reliable data on such tiny animals. That's where the new autonomous Zooglider robot technology comes in.

    Zooglider is a small robot created by engineers and oceanographers at the University of California in San Diego, and its sole purpose to keep an eye on those little microscopic lifeforms. The robot draws in samples of water and collects detailed up-close photos of Zooplankton, operating at a depth of 400m or more and able to take a new sample every 5 seconds.

    The robot can be programmed using a mobile phone and will then travel by itself and take samples along its route automatically, lasting up to 50 days before needing to return for maintenance. This will make them very powerful tools for oceanographers studying problems such as ocean acidification, providing an invaluable stream of data.

    Source: Silicon Republic,

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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