Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Robot Kayaks Reduce Research Costs

They are a long way from the original Inuit technology of skins stretched over wooden frame but the SCOUT kayaks serve the same purpose - of using available resources to get the job done.

SCOUT stands for Surface Crafts for Oceanographic and Undersea Testing and is used by MIT students and researchers to test ideas for autonomous maritime robots.

The robots are made from standard $500 plastic kayaks and are outfitted with navigation, communication and computing gear.
"I want to have master's students and Ph.D. students that can come in, test algorithms and develop them on a shoestring budget," said Associate Professor John J. Leonard of mechanical engineering.
Just like the Inuit the students learn to get what they need from the slim resources.

Testing with underwater craft can quickly run up into the millions of dollars.

10 SCOUTS have been built in cooperation with the US Naval Underwater Warfare Center. The boats provide a standard platform on which experiment.

Some of the applications for an autonomous fleet of robot boats include search and rescue, sweeping for mines and surveillance patrols.

Kayaks adapted to test marine robotics - MIT News Office


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