Looks Like Tuna, Swims Like Tuna, Must be a Robot
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 @ 10:10 AM gHale
Robots are bringing an important layer of physical security protection to ports, working under the disguise of a fish.
The BioSwimmer is a semi-autonomous underwater vehicle equipped to inspect a vessel’s exterior for illicit cargo and contraband, as well as harbor facilities for unwanted activity.
There has been a new wave of creative smuggling and targeted attacks, and the underwater portion of ship hulls are now hosting smuggled goods. Port and harbor infrastructure can also end up targeted by improvised explosive devices. The BioSwimmer, developed by Boston Engineering and funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), works with the field officer to recognize threats to take remediation measures.
The BioSwimmer and its onboard sensors work to inspect the outside of ships for drugs and other contraband trying to make it across the border underwater. This inspection is enabled through the BioSwimmer’s ability to maneuver within the confines of ships’ propulsion, steering, and recesses, all while twisting and turning within the water just like an actual fish.
“This next generation unmanned underwater vehicle could be leveraged widely by the United States Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection to inspect ships and piers for contraband and other material,” said S&T Program Manager David Taylor.
The BioSwimmer is a biomimetic system modeled after the Bluefin Tuna known for its extraordinary swimming athleticism.
Similar to the Bluefin, the BioSwimmer has the ability to twist and turn in limited space within the water. It is this ability that sets BioSwimmer apart from most other remotely operated vehicles. The BioSwimmer provides faster hull scanning, increased maneuverability, and more robust coverage. Although BioSwimmer will cost slightly more than conventional remotely operated vehicles, the cost benefit will be substantial in terms of port and harbor security, reduction in volume of smuggled contraband entering the country, and apprehension of smugglers.