World’s first amphibious robot has successful sea trials

Escorting the robot at 20 feet

AQUA, the world’s first amphibious robot, made a fruitful trip to Barbados last month.   The robot has visited the island the last four years, and is progressing extremely well. 

The McGill University robot recently performed depth testing to 120 feet, reef mapping without disturbing the environment and basic sign language.

AQUA can be used in numerous ways, ranging from ocean exploration to diver rescue.  But Gregory Dudek, director of the McGill Research Center for Intelligent Machines, said he wants the bot to someday check the health of coral reefs.  They want AQUA to be a marine biologist.

“Marine biologists spend many hours underwater assessing the health of coral reefs,” Dudek said. “We realized that AQUA had great potential to assist with this kind of environmental monitoring.”

AQUA can dive deeper than most scuba divers, will not run out of air and does not get cold or tired.   

Unlike most underwater vehicles, AQUA does not use thrusters for propulsion; instead, it uses six paddles, which act as control surfaces during swimming and as legs while walking.  The bot can walk along the shore, swim along the surface in open water, or walk on the bottom of the ocean. 

AQUA is now autonomous as well.  After making measurements at a particular location, the robot can return home autonomously. Later, the robot can independently return to the site to collect additional data.

McGill Reporter
Computer magazine


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