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Heroes in a half shell: autonomous robot sea turtles in development

Nicole Lee, @nicole
10.05.12
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Sure you could have a robot assist you around the home, or even one that'll make factories friendlier, but we'll opt for a robot sea turtle any day of the week. The Swiss folks over at ETH Zurich are working on making that a reality with the Naro-Tartaruga, a turtle-inspired machine that would swim efficiently while carrying cargo in its shell. It's currently a cylindrical aluminum vessel with a couple of flippers, but concept designs include that totally bad-ass bot in the image above. The turtle-bot has a top speed of over 7 knots, so it'll handily beat any real sea turtle in a race, and the big torso has enough space for battery and sensors that are necessary for autonomous function. The fins on the turtle have a fully three-dimensional mechanism -- there are three actuators per fin, and each actuate the fin axle independently. The end goal is for the development of underwater autonomous vehicles, which will hopefully bring us one step closer to SeaQuest DSV. In the meantime, we'd like one just so we can freak the hell out of our cats.

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