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The Underwater Drones That Hunt for Oil Spills


Autonomous underwater vehicles.

Researchers at the Technical University of Cartagena in Spain deployed a group of five autonomous underwater vehicles to locate and track oil spills below the surface of the ocean.

Credit: Google

Javier Gilabert and colleagues at the Technical University of Cartagena in Spain deployed a group of five autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to locate and track oil spills below the surface of the ocean by measuring the oil's fluorescence and generating a three-dimensional (3D) model to aid responders.

The Enhanced Underwater Robotics Ready for Oil Spill technology has been tested with a simulated spill off the coast of Ireland.

The team overcame the challenges of communicating with underwater devices by transmitting Wi-Fi signals to floating stations, which then relay them to the AUVs using an acoustic signal.

Scientists aboard a ship can access the 3D spill maps on their laptops.

Gilabert says the difficulties of retrieving the drones from the ocean can be overcome by programming them to head to shore on their own.

From New Scientist
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