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Traveling autonomously in rough waters

Compact underwater robots in poor visibility

Gallus Kaufmann
March 26, 2024

Underwater robots equipped with advanced technology are used in many areas nowadays, but they are particularly in demand for industrial inspections in oil and gas production, in the renewable energy sector such as offshore wind or hydropower and for military tasks. "Not everyone has a huge ship at their disposal, as is commonplace in the offshore sector today. The large devices require a lot of manpower and resources to be watered in," explains Jonas. The aim of the start-up was to develop a system that is as simple and compact as possible, which can be operated by a small number of personnel but has the same capabilities as larger models. Localizing the robot in the water is much more difficult than on land or in the air, as neither GPS nor a camera are used. Instead, sound waves are used, which are processed by various sensors so that the underwater robot can navigate itself. The sonar technology used is ultrasound. This allows the robot, like a bat, to create a 3D model of its surroundings and orient itself in its environment. In Switzerland, there are other diving robot technologies in addition to the robots from Tethys Robotics. These are mainly used in clearer waters. Tethys has specialized in murky, turbulent waters such as rivers with currents, for which there was no good solution yet.

Like a bat, the robot can create a 3D model of its surroundings and orient itself in its environment.
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With the help of special orientation technology, the robot works automatically without being controlled from outside. For example, it can be pre-programmed to scout out a certain area in such a way that it scans every spot in a certain area and records it photographically. Both 3D films of the surroundings and photogrammetry are possible. With a built-in gripper arm, the robot can also easily retrieve people or smaller objects. Even in poor visibility, it can dive to a depth of 300 meters at a flow rate of 2 m/s. (At such a flow rate, even weaker vehicles could be swept away).

Read the entire article in the founded magazin: Tethys Robotics - autonom in rauem Gewässer unterwegs - FOUNDED.