The underwater U-Cat, a highly maneuverable robot turtle, designed to penetrate shipwrecks. Its locomotion principle is similar to sea turtles.
U-Cat swimming in an aquarium at Centre for Biorobotics. Courtesy of Centre for Biorobotics, Tallinn University of Technology.
Independently driven four flippers make the robot highly maneuverable; it can swim forward and backward, up and down and turn on spot in all directions.
Maneuverability is a desirable feature when inspecting confined spaces such as shipwrecks.
The robot carries an on-board camera and the video footage can be later used to reconstruct the underwater site.
Taavi Salumäe, the designer of the U-CAT concept and researcher in Centre for Biorobotics, Tallinn University of Technology, said:
“U-CAT is specifically designed to meet the end-user requirements. Conventional underwater robots use propellers for locomotion. Fin propulsors of U-CAT can drive the robot in all directions without disturbing water and beating up silt from the bottom, which would decrease visibility inside the shipwreck.
Prof. Maarja Kruusmaa, a Head of Centre for Biorobotics, explains:
“The so called biomimetic robots, robots based on animals and plants, is an increasing trend in robotics where we try to overcome the technological bottlenecks by looking at alternative technical solutions provided by nature.”