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A series of small synchronized marine robots loaded with sensors was exposed recently by Aquabotix. Along with defense and security, the SwarmDiver system is designed for use in research, environmental monitoring, harbor management, and other applications.
The SwarmDiver, a group of robots that move as one entity, each one is 75 cm (29.5 in) long, weighs 1.7 kg (3.7 lb) and looks like an unassuming, yellow plastic pipe. They get around thanks to propellers driven by two brushless DC motors that allow them to hit a top speed of 2.2 m per second (4.9 mph). With a battery life of about 2.5 hours, Aquabotix says the little swimmers should be able to travel up to 7 km (4.3 mi), and they’re designed to handle the surf, according to newatlas.com.
The small robots are equipped to measure temperature and pressure and can be tracked via GPS. While zipping around on the surface, they use radio to communicate with each other and the controller, but they can also dive to a depth of 50 m (164 ft) – although the operator will need to wait until the bots resurface before receiving the data they gather down there.
One person can control the entire SwarmDiver fleet. The swarming algorithms are designed to be easy to use, with several formations to choose from and a Return Home function that brings the bots back in single file.