Researchers Asko Ristolainen and Taavi Salumäe at the Centre for Biorobotics, Tallinn University of Technology developed a robotic sea turtle called U-CAT that has the capability to explore underwater shipwrecks. With four independent flippers and cameras it can explore these tight cornered locations by moving in nearly any direction it needs to. The hope is that the images captured will be used to reconstruct sites to understand them better.
The robot will be used in tandem with other larger robots. At present most sea robots are put to use in Oil & Gas as well as defense. They are large and expensive machinery. Smaller companies need an alternative to exploring underwater sites without putting divers at risk.
Researchers copied the design of creatures in the wild. It helps to create useful machinery that does not kick up underwater sediment and can get in and out of hard to reach places. Using these small robots is more cost effective and functional than some of the alternatives on the market.
The copying of natural creatures in robotics is one way to hedge the natural development knowledge. Without this copying, researchers must invent completely new ways of producing robots. Using a natural prototype encourages faster development of such alternatives.