Underwater mobile manipulation can be especially challenging, for example when objects or the robot are floating or if objects are very slippery or fragile. EDG works to develop new end-effectors, sensors and manipulation strategies suitable for tasks in the ocean. This could impact a variety of applications from marine exploration to industrial work and defense operations at sea.
One thrust is the design of devices for sampling deep coral reefs. These fragile ecosystems are not well understood, and we aim to enable human-portable ROV’s to perform meaningful tests at depth. Tactile sensing is also challenging with large changes in ambient pressure associated with depth. New sensing modalities and skin designs are being developed such that we can incorporate contact sensitivity and reliable grasping in a robust fashion.