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Now, swimming robots will clean the oil spill: MIT

Now, swimming robots will clean the oil spill: MIT

“Bangalore: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently announced the development of a prototypical robot called Seaswarm. Here's a new way of looking at oil spill clean-up: Forget the big ships, massive work crews and hefty price tags. It's a new way of looking at oil spill clean-up. These robots can find the oil as their own. And when they reach the site of an oil spill, they talk to their robot friends to figure out the best way to get the whole thing mopped up.

The $20,000 robots will be unveiled officially to the public on Saturday at an event in Venice, Italy, and will be ready to deal with oil spills in about a year."We're hoping that spillage like what we've seen with Deepwater Horizon will not occur again, but oil leakage constantly happens and that's really what motivated us. When you drill offshore, you always have leakage. And you can imagine a team of robots waiting around the corner for a spill," said Biderman, Associate Director of the SENSEable City Lab at MIT.

The Seaswarm robots, which were developed by a team from MIT's SENSEable City Lab, look like a treadmill conveyor belt that's been attached to an ice cooler. The material on the robot's conveyer belt, which MIT calls a "paper towel for oil spills," can absorb up to 20 times its weight in oil. Once it has absorbed the crude from the surface of the ocean, the robot can either burn off the oil on the spot, using a heater on the "ice cooler" part of its body, or it can bag the oil and leave it on the surface of the water for a later pick-up or it can be recycled.

MIT will continue research on the robots for about a year, he said, at which time the robot technology would be ready for commercial production and possibly a buyer.

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