A “Venus Swarm” to help MOSE in Venice
The term acqua alta (high water) refers to the exceptional tide peaks that occur periodically (mainly in the autumn-spring period) in the Venetian lagoon, which can cause flooding in the urban areas of Venice and Chioggia.
The spread of high water across the city of Venice depends on many factors: varying altitudes, the distance from streams and canals, the heights of banks and pavements, the presence of full parapets along the pavements, the layout of sewer manholes.
Many technological systems have been studied to protect Venice from high water and safeguard its extraordinary historical and artistic heritage: the last one was presented at EXPO Venice during the conference “Communication technologies for the protection of marine and inland water: research and topical” organized by the Directorate-General for Electronic Communication Broadcasting and Postal Services of the Ministry of Economic Development, in collaboration with Linkem, attended by ENEA, University of Rome Tor Vergata, ISPRA and the Italian Corps of the Port Captaincies.
It is called “Venus Swarm” and it is composed of a swarm of submarine drones built using a technology developed by ENEA and the University of Rome Tor Vergata that, imitating the behaviour of fish scouring the seabed, will monitor the operations of MOSE offering important advantages compared to the use of single and sophisticated, but very expensive, robotic systems.
“Venus is the basic element of a swarm system composed of several cooperative and coordinated vehicles and is the result of years of laboratory studies of Robotics”, said Vincenzo Nanni from ENEA, “a line of research focused on imitating aggregation patterns in animals and their group intelligence”.
“Venus Swarm” is a swarm of drones that, in very close contact, act like network nodes and make up a submarine wireless system that uses sound and light to communicate: in clean waters, the optical system makes it possible to transmit a large quantity of information, whereas the sound system, redesigned specifically for this system, can be mainly used in dirty waters.
Thanks to the collaboration between ENEA and the University of Rome Tor Vergata, the future prospect is to create a real underwater digital highway with a hybrid communication system that can take advantage of the close synergy between the optical and acoustic channels and enable the “dialogue” between the robots and the surface, with dramatic improvements in terms of transmission speed compared to the current systems.
The technology of submarine drones could be used to monitor structures at sea such as oil platforms, pipelines and ports that may be possible targets of sabotage and terrorist attacks, considering that port access control currently only happens on the surface, to protect underwater flora and fauna, to assess pollution and to detect archaeological finds on the seabed.
Also, ENEA and the University of Rome Tor Vergata are working on a European project proposal on marine life and human nutrition that, based on the study of the interaction between robotic systems and schools of fish, will allow to improve health and the general wellbeing of fish farms.