The bowels of the sea are full of mysteries and this soft robot capable of free swimming 3,244 meters from the surface wants to help solve them
The depths of the sea are, above all, an unknown. A huge expanse of the earth’s surface that remains unexplored simply because we don’t quite know how to do it. We know how to go down to the seabed and we know how to build rigid containers filled with compensation systems to survive the extreme pressures we encounter. However, it is not enough.
And it is not because, deep down, they are that: clumsy armored cans with a bunch of sensors. Compared to deep-sea creatures like jellyfish, they look like 19th-century technology with pretense. Tiefeng Li and his team must have thought something similar.
At the bottom of the sea
The result is a soft, autonomous and wireless robot designed to operate successfully in the depths of the Mariana Trench and that has already shown that it can freely swim 3,224 meters below the surface in the Sea. he has Inspired by the structure the slimy fish that live in those environments.
This means that, unlike other robots of this type that depend on huge rigid containers, the Electronic components are decentralized and encased in “a flexible silicone matrix”. Field tests that just published in the journal Nature they appear to show good resistance both in the Mariana Trench (up to 10,900 meters deep) and in open ocean areas in the South China Sea (up to 3,224 meters).
Although the best is not that, obviously. The best thing is that we have videos about the thing.
Deep down, this type of system is a permanent challenge, a search for soft and light structures and materials that allow us to introduce smarter, more versatile, maneuverable and efficient equipment in extreme conditions. I mean, get that ‘SeaQuest’ do not just stay in the field of fiction.
Picture | Shaun Low