Technology 2 min read

New Robot Snake Could Help Solve Ocean Pollution Crisis

When you hear the term "envirotech", you probably think of something weird like a chip that injects plant cells in your veins. In fact, a Swiss company is using envirotech to develop a robotic snake that helps to clean up the ocean.

The new EPFL robot snake could help find pollution sources faster and more efficiently than any other means. |  Image via EPFL

The new EPFL robot snake could help find pollution sources faster and more efficiently than any other means. | Image via EPFL

Some of the biggest innovations in robotics have come from bio-inspired machines.

Bio-inspired machines mimic creatures or beings in real life. A great example is the new Rolls Royce robot bug that can crawl into and repair engines.

Bio-inspired machines pair perfectly with increasing ocean clean-up efforts. Along with the Ocean Cleanup project, there is also the Water Shark, which we’ve already showcased and discussed here.

But another tool — a bio-inspired robotic snake — hopes to make an even more considerable impact.

How This Bio-Inspired Robot Works

This portable robot snake reaches about 5-feet in length and can move fluidly in water.

Designed by the Swiss Federal Insitute of Technology (EFPL), the AmphiBot detects pollution in water. It then discovers the source of the pollutant so that specialists can stop and repair the source of pollution.

You can drop it in a difficult to navigate body of water and let it operate autonomously. Users can then identify the pollution source with data collected by the snake.

The envirotech bot is made entirely of 3D-printed materials and sends data back in real-time. Due to the different sensors in each segment, it is totally modular. This means that each AmphiBot can be adapted to your needs.

The sensors identify key aspects of pollution including the conductivity, acidity, and temperature of the surrounding water.

Researchers hope to augment the envirotech to detect heavy metals, too.

The AmphiBot is actually one of many amphibious robots from EFPL. | Science DIrect

Drawing Inspiration From Nature

The AmphiBot isn’t the only robot from EPFL. In fact, they have many bio-inspired robots for all different purposes. While some meet the same criteria as the AmphiBot, others serve different needs.

For instance, they previously designed a rehabilitation robot to serve disabled persons undergoing physical therapy.

Their quadruped lineup, named after cats like the Cheetah and Lynx, also test the limits of robotics. At the moment, their Cheetah-cub quadruped is the fastest quadruped in its weight class.

What other species do you think envirotech scientists should take inspiration from?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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