Robots like sea organisms in the Venice lagoon, SubCULTtron test now underway
In the Venice lagoon, the test of SubCULTtron has recently started; this is an advanced European project in the field of artificial intelligence aimed at developing the largest underwater system for data collection, coordination and exchange.
Funded by the European Union under the Future Emerging Technologies-FET scheme of the Horizon 2020 programme, the project is coordinated by the University of Graz, Austria. The wide range of partners includes Corila, the consortium for research regarding the Venice lagoon system, and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa for Italy.
The project aims at developing a swarm of smart devices consisting of three different types of robots independent from humans, each one designed for a specific task: artificial mussels, artificial fish and artificial lilypads. The sophisticated mechanisms operating these robots are inspired to bio-algorithms derived from social insects, moulds and fish.
The first actor in this complex system designed by SubCULTtron is mussel robots, equipped with a special protection shell and an anchorage system which allows them to collect data from the sea bottom.
This information is then passed on to fish robots, which – just like their biological counterparts – are fast and agile underwater robots that search for given targets.
Finally, artificial fish send data received to lilypad robots, which send it to the scientists in the lab. While floating on the water surface, lilypad robots are able to store solar energy, by changing the direction of their artificial leaves to address the light source.
Venice was chosen to be the best site where to test this complex system of underwater robots designed by SubCULTtron since the lagoon waters, which show a special complexity and variety from a biological and ecological point of view, are a perfect environment where to test advanced underwater technologies.
The robots are expected to provide innovative methods to protect Venice canals from future damage, this environment being already highly polluted and affected by climate change and impact of tourism, industry and local population.
Scientists’ final objective is that the variety of data collected under the water surface by the artificial community of robots produces benefits for the human society on the mainland and is accessible to everybody on Google Maps.