June 14, 2024

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Underwater robots can stay in the ocean indefinitely thanks to NASA technology

Underwater robots can stay in the ocean indefinitely thanks to NASA technology

NASA is not only exploring space, it is also exploring the depths of our oceans. New technology now aims to ensure that underwater robots are powered for an indefinite period of time without the need to charge them from outside.

Until now, robots have only been able to operate in the ocean for a short time, and then had to be shipped out at great expense or left as scrap.

The new technology was developed by Yi Zhao at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is now being commercialized by his company Citric.

This is how the power supply works

Phase change materials are used to generate energy. These substances change phases, usually between solid and liquid, at certain temperatures. They expand and contract again.

Underwater robots can generate energy from this process. “We use the kinetic energy from this volume expansion to run the engine and then convert the mechanical energy into electricity. This way they can recharge their battery,” Zhao told the newspaper. NASA.

The robots must appear at certain intervals to send their data to researchers. They swim across different temperature zones. With the appropriate material, a phase change occurs.

The technology exists Infinite float It is used by Seatrec, the first underwater robot to use this technology to generate more energy than it consumes. Floats are therefore more energy and cost efficient than previous methods.

It can be used for this purpose

Zhao wants to use the technology to map the 80% of the ocean floor that has yet to be explored. Military, gas and oil companies, providers of offshore wind farms, telecommunications companies that want to lay Internet cables in the ocean, and environmental groups would be interested in such maps.

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Buoys can also help predict hurricanes by providing information about water temperatures at depths of 30 to 50 metres. The sensors currently used for these measurements appear about every ten days, while the buoys appear several times a day and gain energy in the process. This means that predictions can happen more often and warn people sooner.

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