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NTU's 'sense-ational' invention helps underwater vessels navigate with ease
Date:12/12/2012

apped in hydrogel - a material which is similar to the natural neuromasts of the blind cave fish - into an array of two rows of five sensors," Prof Miao said.

"This array of micro-sensors will then allow AUVs to locate, identify, and classify obstacles and objects in water through water pressure and also to optimise its movement in water by sensing the water flow."

The new sensor array which costs below S$100 to make, is also more affordable than sonars, which can detect faraway objects but not nearby objects and cost thousands of dollars.

Partnering Prof Miao to develop the sensors and to adopt it for use on AUVs is Professor Michael Triantafyllou from SMART. Prof Triantafyllou, from SMART's Centre for Environmental Sensing and Modeling (CENSAM), is one of the world's foremost experts on creating underwater robots modelled after aquatic animals like fish.

Current problems with AUVs include poor navigation in murky or cloudy waters such as those off the coast of Singapore, as underwater cameras can only see a short distance, Prof Triantafyllou said.

"Other methods like underwater lights and cameras, acoustic navigation, and sonars also work, but they are very expensive and require very high levels of power that drain the batteries. The new sensors are much cheaper and only require small amounts of power. Also, sensors like sonar are loud and invasive and they may harm aquatic animals that also use sound waves to navigate," the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor added.

The aim of the AUVs is for environmental sensing, to detect environmental pollution, contaminants and to monitor the overall water quality in Singapore's waters. The AUVs will have chemical sensors installed to detect the chemical condition of water (dissolved oxygen, nutrients, metals, oils, and pesticides), and biological sensors to monitor water conditions such as harmful bacteria and pathogens.

Other potential applicati
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Contact: Lester Kok
lesterkok@ntu.edu.sg
65-974-15593
Nanyang Technological University
Source:Eurekalert  

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