Robosalps Underwater Robots Engineered for Autonomous Space Missions

By: | February 11th, 2023

Our universe is full of suspense. There are many planets and moons, some with an ocean of acid and some full of gasses… making it difficult to explore these.

For exploring unknown and extreme environments, there is a need for Robotic systems that can withstand extra-terrestrial environments, especially their oceans.

Researchers from the University of Bristol have developed a jellyfish-inspired robot designed for extra-terrestrial exploration missions.

Inspired by the shape and movement of a jellyfish-like creature, these robotic units are called RoboSalps. Salps have translucent barrel-shaped bodies. These are equipped with a small motor with rotor blades, that allows each module to swim on its own.

At some time, they live as individuals, however, the robot can also link to each other to form ‘colonies,’ giving them abilities that can only be achieved because they work together.

Although they are difficult to control when robots swim on their own, when they form colonies, they become more stable and show sophisticated movements.

“RoboSalp is the first modular salp-inspired robot. Each module is made of a very light-weight soft tubular structure and a drone propeller which enables them to swim,” said researcher Valentina Lo Gatto of Bristol’s Department of Aerospace Engineering is leading the study. “These simple modules can be combined into ‘colonies’ that are much more robust and have the potential to carry out complex tasks. Because of their low weight and their robustness, they are ideal for extra-terrestrial underwater exploration missions, for example, in the subsurface ocean on the Jupiter moon Europa.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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