When scientists want to collect oceanographic data over long distances – but without affecting marine life – self-propelled “underwater gliders” are often used. A new car is said to be highly maneuverable, but it has no external engine or steering system.
Developed by a team of researchers at Indiana’s Purdue University, the torpedo-shaped underwater self-propelled vehicle (AUV) called the Underwater Glider is research-oriented for the Hand of Investigation Engineering – short for is ROUGHIE. It descends and climbs in the water column by pumping water into or out of the integrated ballast tank, changing its buoyancy. This is a kind of thrust, because the car moves up and down at an angle, going forward as if it were moving.
It can control the up and down angle by sliding the battery forward and back in the body. Doing so will change the AUV’s horizontal center of gravity and thus its elevation. In addition, the rail-mounted battery and other internal components can either be tilted towards the port or starboard side, relative to the cylindrical housing. This causes weight shift to one side or the other, causing the wheel to roll and thus rotate in that direction.
Like other underwater gliders, ROUGHIE is capable of staying at sea for weeks or even months between battery charges, collecting data almost silently using some additional sensors for separate for the mission. However, unlike other vehicles, its high maneuverability should allow it to operate within relatively close limits, including shallower waters. According to its designers, while other gliders have a turning radius of about 33 feet (10 m), the ROUGHIE can rotate in as little as 10 ft (3 m).
Furthermore, it will cost about 1/10 of the production cost. So far testing has been limited to swimming pools only.
“We program ROUGHIE with flight patterns ahead of time and it executes them automatically,” said Assoc. Professor Nina Mahmoudian, who started developing AUV in 2012 when she was working at Michigan Technological University. “It can do standard jagged up and down movements to move in a straight line, but it can also move in circles or an S-shape. The fact that it can perform these tasks in the confined environment of a swimming pool is unused but the inner workings are impressive. “
An article on technology was recently published in the magazine Sensor.
ROUGHIE can be seen in action, in the video below.
Source: Purdue University
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