Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Underwater robots for operations in challenging and dangerous environments

Divers are often put at considerable risk when searching for people or objects underwater due to factors such as strong currents, deep waters, and low visibility.

Engineers at the ETH Zurich spinoff company Tethys Robotics have developed an underwater robot that can be used in situations that are too dangerous for human divers.

The Tethys robot is an autonomous underwater vehicle that has been specially developed for use in challenging and dangerous environments like turbid channels and rivers. It is primarily used in situations when it is too difficult or risky to use conventional search and rescue techniques.

The Tethys weighs 30 kg when on the water, has a top speed of 2 meters per second, and has a fiber optics cable reach of up to 10 km (6.2 miles). Thanks to its swappable lithium battery, the robot can operate on a single charge for four hours.

Equipped with acoustic sensors, cameras, and AI-based algorithms, the robot can autonomously search large areas underwater and quickly localize objects or people. This means that divers and rescue teams no longer have to risk working in dangerous situations.

The Tethys robot can be used to grab and carry up to 40 kg back to the surface. Once the robot has located its target, an operator takes over the navigation and guides the robot diver to the target. This allows the emergency services to focus on other important tasks and ensure that the search and rescue operation runs as efficiently and as safely as possible.

According to the ETH Zurich team, the underwater robot has already been used by several local authorities for underwater search and rescue operations.