Over the past five years Kristi Morgansen, a University of Washington assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics, has built three Robofish that communicate with one another underwater. Recently at the International Federation of Automatic Control's Workshop on Navigation, Guidance and Control of Underwater Vehicles she presented results showing that the robots had successfully completed their first major test. The robots were programmed to either all swim in one direction or all swim in different directions, basic tasks that can provide the building blocks for coordinated group movement.
This success in indoor test tanks, she said, will eventually provide the basis for ocean-going systems to better explore remote ocean environments.
"Underwater robots don't need oxygen. The only reason they come up to the surface right now is for communication," Morgansen said. Her robots do not need to come to the surface until their task is complete...
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