Port and Airport Research Institute in Japan developed a buoy-type robot that tracks oil spill created by a tanker accident and tells the location of the spilled oil in collaboration of Naomi Kato, professor of Osaka University. It travels side by side an oil spill that expands because of wind and drift of the tide with the help of the specialized sail and visual sensor. Tracking by this robot is less costly than the observation by airplane. The robot is about 60 cm in diameter, and it carries a sail and a visual sensor. The visual sensor detects wind velocity, wind direction, and azimuth direction, and knows the location of the spilled oil using GPS. In the demonstrative experiment, the buoy-type robot successfully moved along the spill of oil. It can be used for continuous monitoring of oilfields. The research institute and the university professor plan to install the driving mechanism that can adjust the robot’s position autonomously. The driving mechanism is scheduled to look like a fish fin.
Related web page: http://www.pari.go.jp/english/index.htm