Underwater Search Robot

300px Robot at the Museum of Science and Technology Underwater Search Robot

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“This robot is designed to be transported and start searching right away in emergencies, so we’ve made it as light as possible. We’ve developed it to resemble an extended eye, so users can see the surroundings as soon as the robot enters the water.”

Anchor Diver uses 2D imaging sonar and a HD camera to monitor the seabed at an angle of 30 degrees. To enable the robot’s sonar to be effective at this angle, it has a special shape with a long, vertical body. This also enables the robot to maintain a stable posture in the sea, where it’s subject to buoyancy forces. In addition, Anchor Diver can travel freely up to 20 m from its ship by using thrusters.

“Anchor Diver is a type of remotely operated vehicle, or ROV. But with conventional ROVs, the wires tend to get tangled in wreckage. So we’ve used a method that’s unique worldwide, by pulling the wires taut, so the robot can move away, like cormorants do in cormorant fishing. This robot can move freely up, down, left, and right by changing the direction of its thrusters.”

Following the recent tsunami, Anchor Diver was dispatched to Watari-cho in Miyagi, where it searched for missing persons.

“Unfortunately, unlike in a company, we don’t have equipment that can go into action right away. We only have one of these robots, for research purposes, but it does work, so we went to the affected region and searched for bodies. We were working in an area with very poor visibility, but at close range, we could see quite well. So we used the sonar to check each key point, but we didn’t locate any bodies.”

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