Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Ocean Robot Swarms

PostedJune 13, 2010

Download File (mp3)

Randy Atkins: Dozens of small, inexpensive robots might one day be spread beneath large areas of the ocean to monitor spread of an oil spill.  Jorge Cortes, a University of California San Diego engineer, is programming them with ability to adjust buoyancy and find currents.

Jorge Cortes: They will get pushed and moved away in the same way as oil gets pushed and moved away.

Randy Atkins: The swarm would maintain formation by optical communications with each other…and surface periodically to beam sensor data to a satellite.  Putting their information together…

Jorge Cortes: …will give us an idea of how the currents are looking, where the oil is going to end up, how it’s going to get dispersed.

Randy Atkins: At the end of their mission, the robots would be remotely guided to a certain spot for collection.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103 point 5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.


Unfortunately, the technology is still in development and not yet ready for use in the Gulf.