Research ArticleBIOMIMETICS

Bioinspired underwater legged robot for seabed exploration with low environmental disturbance

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Science Robotics  13 May 2020:
Vol. 5, Issue 42, eaaz1012
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aaz1012

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Abstract

Robots have the potential to assist and complement humans in the study and exploration of extreme and hostile environments. For example, valuable scientific data have been collected with the aid of propeller-driven autonomous and remotely operated vehicles in underwater operations. However, because of their nature as swimmers, such robots are limited when closer interaction with the environment is required. Here, we report a bioinspired underwater legged robot, called SILVER2, that implements locomotion modalities inspired by benthic animals (organisms that harness the interaction with the seabed to move; for example, octopi and crabs). Our robot can traverse irregular terrains, interact delicately with the environment, approach targets safely and precisely, and hold position passively and silently. The capabilities of our robot were validated through a series of field missions in real sea conditions in a depth range between 0.5 and 12 meters.

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