How A Humanoid Robot Is Helping Scientists Explore Shipwrecks


The robot’s arms, hands and eyes, which have 3D vision and can capture the underwater world in full colour, resemble those of a human diver from the front.

A robot developed at Standford University in the US is diving to sunken ships and planes while giving its users the impression that they are also underwater explorers.

The OceanOneK robot features a humanoid upper half and 3D-capable eyes that can capture the colour of the aquatic world.Its arms and hands give it the appearance of a human diver from the front, and computers and eight multidirectional thrusters on its back allow it to precisely manoeuvre the locations of vulnerable sunken ships.

According to a press release, OceanOneK’s haptic, or touch-based, feedback technology and stereoscopic vision generate amazingly realistic sensations that match what an operator at the ocean’s surface would have experienced had he been down below as opposed to above onboard the control ship.In other words, the humanoid’s operator can explore the ocean’s depths without the risks or the intense pressure of being underwater.

In September of last year, deep-sea archaeologists and Stanford University roboticist Oussama Khatib’s students started sending the humanoid on dives.The group completed yet another underwater adventure in July.Mr. Khatib claimed that while diving, he felt the water’s resistance and could make out the shapes and vicinity of the ancient artefacts all around him.

According to the press release, OceanOneK has so far investigated a sunken Beechcraft Baron F-GDPV jet, the Italian steamer Le Francesco Crispi, a second-century Roman ship off the coast of Corsica, a World War II P-38 Lightning aircraft, and a submarine known as Le Protee.

The great thing is that when you go close to this amazing edifice, you truly feel it, said Mr. Khatib, adding, “I’d never encountered anything like that in my life.I can claim to have touched the Crispi at a distance of 500 metres.I touched it and felt it, so I did”.

The researchers also revealed that the robot’s trip to these depths had two objectives: one, to investigate previously unexplored territory; and second, to demonstrate that human touch, vision, and interaction can be carried to locations that are far from where people can operate.

According to Mr. Khatib, “This is the first time a robot has been able to go to such a depth, interact with the environment, and allow the human operator to sense that environment”.He continued, “It has been an amazing adventure”.

OceanOne first appeared in 2016.The destroyed flagship La Lune of King Louis XIV, which is located 328 feet below the Mediterranean, was examined back then.The 1664 shipwreck was never discovered by anybody.

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