Robot sea turtle maps shipwrecks too deep for humans

Jamie Lumsden,

, Last Updated: 5:00 PM ET

Whenever a shipwreck is either too dangerous or too expensive for humans to investigate, researchers tend to send down remotely operated to snoop things out, but many are too large and disruptive to make reliable substitutes.

A team of engineers from the Tallinn Institute of Technology have created a new mapping robot designed to imitate the locomotion of the graceful sea turtle, allowing it to poke around a wreck with minimal disturbance. Rather than being propeller-driven like most sub-aquatic robots, the U-CAT mapping robot moves around with small mechanical flippers, which kick up far less debris and allow the robot to turn on a dime.

The little robot turtle with a promising future in the world of underwater archaeology will be deployed in places like the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas as part of the EU's ARROWS Project.

The mapping robot is expected to observe and record in much greater detail than a human investigator would be able to accomplish under such challenging conditions. Check out the video demonstration of the little guy below: