Robot buoy hunts down spilled oil

SOTAB 1 (Spilled Oil Tracking Autonomous Buoy 1) is a 110-kilogram (243 lb.) GPS-equipped robot that measures 2.72 meters (9 ft.) from top to bottom and 27 centimeters (11 in.) in diameter. It has imaging sensors that can spot floating globs of oil from a distance, as well as viscosity sensors that detect the presence of oil, and it includes a wind monitor, depth meter and water thermometer. When multiple robots are dropped into the water at regular intervals around an oil spill, they can provide a wealth of valuable data to cleanup crews and allow them to monitor a wide area.

Once in the water, SOTAB 1 begins searching for oil by reducing its buoyancy and diving underwater, where it trains its imaging sensors back up at the surface. When the robot sees something that looks like oil, it readjusts its buoyancy and floats back to the surface, using 4 fins to steer toward the oil slick. It then takes water samples and determines how much oil is present. As SOTAB 1 follows the oil around, it sends back real-time data about its location and the surrounding meteorological and oceanographic conditions.

Source: pinktentacle.comAdded: 4 July 2008