‘Robo Mermaid’ Goes Where Divers Can’t

'Robo Mermaid' Goes Where Divers Can't (Photo credit: Osada/Seguin/Drassm)
'Robo Mermaid' Goes Where Divers Can't (Photo credit: Osada/Seguin/DRASSM)

Imagine being able to send a robot down hundreds of feet below the surface of the ocean and still be able to “feel” what that robot touches on the sea floor.

Whelp, Stanford University’s five-foot-long/1.5-meter underwater robot, dubbed the “OceanOne,” can do just that.

The idea for such a robot was born from scientists’ wanting to study the reefs of the Red Sea but at depths that most divers would have trouble reaching. After a heckuva lot of work, those scientists came up with the OceanOne, which has eight thrusters and a pair of robotic hands with sensors that send back haptic feedback to the pilot on the surface, allowing him or her to “feel” whatever it is the robot is touching.

Just this past April, the OceanOne was able to explore the La Lune shipwreck site in the Mediterranean Sea off the French coast. On April 15, the OceanOne dove 100 meters/328 feet down to the wreck site and brought a vase the size of a grapefruit back to the surface.

“The expedition to La Lune was OceanOne’s maiden voyage, and based on its astonishing success, it’s hoped that the robot will one day take on highly-skilled underwater tasks too dangerous for human divers, as well as open up a whole new realm of ocean exploration.”

For more info, check out the Stanford University Robotics Lab website at cs.stanford.edu.