Robot Swarms

Expanding upon my interest in robots and nature, I find myself hopeful for the future when I come across stories of robotic solutions for natural disasters brought upon by human intervention.  Today I came across a story reported by BBC introducing the efforts of a group at Heriot Watt University in Scotland who are working on creating a swarm of autonomous undersea robots whose goals are to repair coral reefs that are too deep for divers to regularly visit and have been damaged by deep-sea trawling. I have a growing concern for the welfare of underwater habitats of natural wildlife. Discovering there are efforts to restore these habitats by individuals who are much more capable than I would have envisioned is reassuring; innovation and awareness are key for a sustainable future. Another report I found on the subject shares the same information but in more detail.  This type of application of robotics is not precautionary, but rather a response to damaged habitat by industry’s neglect towards these environments.

This effort reminds me of the work of Cesar Herada with his robotic inventions geared towards oil cleanup.  It is interesting to see when industry tries to cover up its issues from the public, providing false reassurances, that someone with ingenuity, and the will to see beyond false pretenses, and a desire to produce real world solutions that are both realistic and imaginative. Not only do the ideas come to life, but are robust enough to provide other fields with solutions that seemed to have difficult problems to overcome.  Fortunately, I am not the only one who sees this, and public crowd-source funding has proven many people who care enough about the environment are willing to back the financial burden to change the course of destructive industry towards a safer more sustainable management of industry.  Now if only there was more care taken into preventing these types catastrophic shortfalls. The first step is always acknowledging the problem, and it seems that industry is only willing to do so publicly when there is a solution in hand rather than on the horizon.

If we won’t do anything, nature will. The high abundance of jellyfish growing in the oceans today are essentially nature’s way to restore the damage inflicted upon itself; the acidification of oceans brought on by the global warming and over abundance of  CO2 emissions is partially the cause.  Jellyfish are the seeds, and as human beings we can only witness what will grow from them. In a way, they are the autonomous creatures we need, but we likely will not see the benefit in our lifetime.


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