The robot's shipwreck excursion was its maiden voyage, on a dive 100 meters below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea to La Lune, wrecked in 1664 and not touched since by human hands. OceanOne operates like a highly specialized remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and looks something like an unusually shaped ROV attached to a humanoid torso, arms, and head.OceanOne was designed to work with human divers or by itself. It connects to an operator on the surface through cables, carrying binocular vision images, and moving in response to a set of hand controls the operator on the surface uses. A unique aspect of OceanOne is that it conveys haptic information - a sense of touch - to the operator. The operator can see an object on the bottom and feel the object through sensors on the robot's sorta-humanoid hands. Stanford's summary says:
With guidance from a team of skilled deep-sea archaeologists who had studied the site, [Ousamma] Khatib, a professor of computer science at Stanford, spotted a grapefruit-size vase. He hovered precisely over the vase, reached out, felt its contours and weight, and stuck a finger inside to get a good grip. He swam over to a recovery basket, gently laid down the vase and shut the lid. Then he stood up and high-fived the dozen archaeologists and engineers who had been crowded around him.When the robot grabbed that vase, Khatib was the first person to "feel" it since 1664. Later, when the vase was brought to the surface, he was able to really hold it.
The concept for OceanOne was born from the need to study coral reefs deep in the Red Sea, far below the comfortable range of human divers. No existing robotic submarine can dive with the skill and care of a human diver, so OceanOne was conceived and built from the ground up, a successful marriage of robotics, artificial intelligence and haptic feedback systems.As this photo of OceanOne shows, I think describing it as a "robo-mermaid" is a bit overly poetic. It doesn't look like a typical boxy remote submarine, but the similarity to humans is limited to binocular vision, two arms, and perhaps a tendency to look more like a diver stretched out than a box.
OceanOne looks something like a robo-mermaid. Roughly five feet long from end to end, its torso features a head with stereoscopic vision that shows the pilot exactly what the robot sees, and two fully articulated arms. The “tail” section houses batteries, computers and eight multi-directional thrusters.
record for a human dive, not doing constructive work while at depth, is 1000 feet, about 1/3 of the depth OceanOne can work.
Although the robot can communicate with human divers via hand gestures controlled by its pilot, it can also operate independently and will be especially useful when diving without them during dangerous tasks. Those might include oil-rig maintenance, deep-water mining, or underwater exploration during disaster situations like the Fukushima Daiichi power plant nuclear disaster.People tend to be pretty casual about ocean depths and diving, but it's an incredibly hostile environment. It has been said we have better knowledge of the surfaces of the moons of Jupiter than we do of the ocean floor. Look at the Kursk submarine disaster in 2000. The Kursk, a Russian submarine, went down in a mere 350 feet of water, not even the length of a football field and its two end zones under the surface. Considering the ability we had as a species to go rescue any survivors, they might as well have been on the moon.
OceanOne contains sensors throughout its body for gauging current and turbulence, which automatically activate its thrusters to keep the robot's body in place. At the same time, quick-firing motors adjust the robot's arms to keep its hands steady while it works. The robot navigates via data received and processed from both sensors and cameras to avoid collision. One advantage of the humanoid body shape is the ability to use its arms for bracing against impact if the thrusters aren't moving fast enough.
All in all, a pretty cool