Blog Post MIT Researchers create 3D printed underwater robot for port security


Oct

29

2014

MIT Researchers create 3D printed underwater robot for port security

On the face of it, this new security device looks remarkably like a cat toy. However, this deceptive 3D printed device is a mini robot designed to alter underwater security as we know it. The kind of gadget we might associate with a James Bond movie, also happens to be very practical.It is discrete, waterproof, easy to reproduce and affordable.

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MIT engineering team, which includes Sampriti Bhattacharyya and Professor Harry Asada, spoke about their creation at the International Conference on Robots and Systems. It is small enough to be concealed under boats, pipelines and nuclear reactors.

It contains an integrated ultrasound scanner for inspecting ships that may have suspicious cracks or false hulls that may have been tampered with by smugglers. The device also has a unique self-propulsion system.

This clever little robot cannot be detected by traditional radar systems. An ambition is to have large numbers of them around suspected smuggler ships coming into port. People on board would have no idea of the concealed detectives, camouflaged within the algae below.

The researchers suggest that the devices could be produced for as little as $600 and would be easy to replace in the case of breakages. Swarms of the little robots could analyse potential security risks at our major ports.

The U.S. Air force is very interested in this new invention, as the results are very promising thus far. Maritime traffic could be monitored more closely than is possible at present, and drug smuggling and terrorism risks reduced.

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