Stanford University created a robot that is helping human operators to explore shipwrecks and sunken planes, allowing them to feel like they are underwater explorers as well without ever leaving the lab.
This explorer robot is called OceanOneK and top half is a humanoid that has eyes that have 3D vision that captures the underwater world in color. The humanoid is like a human diver from the front and has arms and hands but its back has computers and eight multidirectional thrusters that allows the humanoid to maneuver the sites of fragile sunken ships.
Based on a recent press release, “when an operator at the ocean's surface uses control to direct OceanOneK, the robot's haptic - or touch-based - feedback system and stereoscopic vision produce incredibly realistic sensations that equalled what he would have experienced were he down below, rather than above onboard the control ship.” This means the human operator can have the experience of the dive without the risk of immersing herself or himself in the ocean with the underwater pressure. This is called safe human exploration.
The roboticist Oussama Khatib and students at Stanford University teamed up with deep-sea archaeologists. They started OceanOneK on dives last year. During the dives, Ms. Khatib indicated that during the robot’s dive, he could feel the resistance of the water and also see the shapes and proximity of the historic relics around him.
As of now, OceanOneK has explored a sunken Beechcraft Baron F-GDPV plane, Italian steamship Le Francesco Crispi, a second-century Roman ship off Corsica, a World War II P-38 Lightning aircraft and a submarine called Le Protee.
Mr. Hating stated “you are moving very close to this amazing structure and something incredible happens when you touch it: You actually feel it.” Mr Khatib, added, “I'd never experienced anything like that in my life. I can say I'm the one who touched the Crispi at 500 m. And I did – I touched it, I felt it.”
The two purposes of OnceanOneK is to explore places no one has gone before and to show that human touch, vision and interactivity can be brought to these sites far-removed from where people can operate. Mr. Khatib, provided that this “is the first time that a robot has been capable of going to such a depth, interacting with the environment, and permitting the human operator to feel that environment.”
OceanOne initially debuted in 2016 and had explored explored King Louis XIV's wrecked flagship La Lune, which sits 328 feet below the Mediterranean. This 1664 shipwreck, prior to OceanOneK, had remained untouched by humans.
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