Exploration of the deep sea continues to beone of the priority tasks of modern science. Extremely high pressures place increased demands on the strength of robotic mechanical research systems. However, nature has created numerous deep-sea organisms that can effectively resist pressure and live at extreme depths.
Chinese scientists used the experience of nature and developed an autonomous soft robot with onboard power, a control system and actuators "implanted" into a flexible silicone matrix.
When creating a soft robot for deep seaThe scientists' research has inspired the structure of snails living at extreme depths. The main task in creating a soft robot was not only to create a flexible body structure, but also to effectively protect sensitive electronics, actuators and control devices.
The strength of the battery pack did not causeScientists are concerned, however, the rest of the components of the electronic system: processors, power converters and control systems had to be decentralized and not placed on a single board. The engineers proposed to separate the electronics components into different parts by connecting them with flexible wires.
The original decision was made when creatingmechanisms of artificial fins that set the robot in motion. The unique design of "soft fins" combined with a flexible tail was made from a dielectric polymer that not only withstands tremendous pressure, but also expands and contracts when an electric current is applied to it, which allowed the robots to move to extreme depths.
Design of soft Chinese deep sea robothas something in common with the lateral fins of flying fish and the long tail of the stingray. The dimensions of the soft robot are small: the length is 22 centimeters, and the span of the fins is 28 centimeters. "Muscles" made from a membrane connect the fins and the soft body of the robot.
After laboratory tests in tankshigh pressure and in a freshwater lake at a depth of 70 meters, the Chinese conducted field trials in the South China Sea at a depth of 3224 meters and at a depth of 10,900 meters in the Mariana Trench. Research at extreme depths is still being carried out using a supporting platform, as scientists were afraid of losing the only copy of the soft robot. The demo video showed that the fins are functioning normally. At the next stage, the Chinese intend to release the soft robot into autonomous swimming.