NOAA tells me mermaids aren’t real, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make them real. Last month, Stanford University revealed the creation of OceanOne, a remote-controlled robot — a “robo-mermaid,” if you will — designed to act as a robotic avatar for underwater exploration.
In the above video, you can see OceanOne in action. As professor Oussama Khatib of Stanford University explains, “The intent here is to have a diver diving virtually, creating a robot that can be the physical representation of the human.”
He goes on to describe the robot, which is humanoid. It has two hands, as well as stereo vision. More importantly, its operators can “feel” contact forces, giving them a sense of touch while controlling the robot (known as haptic feedback).
According to IEEE Spectrum, OceanOne was originally conceptualized by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, with the purpose of “monitoring deep coral reefs in the Red Sea.” But its technology has proven useful for other things, including archaeology.
It’s biggest adventure so far has been exploring the wreck of the frigate La Lune in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Toulon, France – a wreck that dates back to the 17th Century.
There, according to Stanford, it encountered a vase, which Khatib had noticed previously. Controlling OceanOne, he was able to grab and retrieve it, feeling the vase’s “contours and weight” through the robotic avatar.