According to ship-technology.com, the oval-shaped robots created by the MIT team were originally designed to check for cracks in the water coolers of nuclear reactors, but have the capability to examine the undersides of ships of all sizes. Each robot has a flat belly which is ideal for crawling along to suss out false hulls or hollow propeller shafts that could be used to hide contraband.
Onboard acceleromators and gyroscopes measure the robot's motion, which is propelled by water ejected through six pumps in the robot's body. An onboard communications antenna relays intel. The robot's lithium battery currently allows for 40 minutes of activity, moving at half a meter to a meter per second while attached to a surface, although an updated version is set to allow for 100 minutes with wireless recharging and expanded propulsion capability.
Best of all, they're small enough to be unobtrusive, and created easily enough to allow for fleets of them to be deployed with no financial worry. Designer Sampriti Bhattacharyya explained, "It's very expensive for port security to use traditional robots for every small boat coming into the port. If this is cheap enough, if I can get this out for $600, say, why not just have 20 of them doing collaborative inspection? And if it breaks, it's not a big deal. It's very easy to make."
These barnacle-bots may be just the thing to help port security search for hidden "treasure."
|Fortunately, traditional pirate justice is of no use against the robots, as they are specifically built for being keelhauled.|