Students at IIT Kharagpur are working on an autonomous underwater vehicle (UAV), which is more intelligent than drones and can perform assigned tasks under water like searching for debris of a flight crashed in the sea.
At the Centre for Robotics, students have developed the Kraken 3.0 a prototype UAV, a successor to the Kraken 2.0, an earlier model they created. The Kraken 3.0 can go as deep as 10 metres in a pool of water, just like a submarine.
"We pre-program it so that it can do specifically assigned tasks like under-water surveying, identifying lost objects or debris, picking them up, etc. It can also be used for conducting repairs under the hull of a ship," said Abhay Kumar, who is leading the team of students.
Armed with strong sensors and cameras to detect its surroundings, the 1.3-metre-long under-water robot is a six-thruster model which can rotate itself in five directions.
Drones can't be used under water because their wireless technologies do not work inside water.
"Once an UAV is under water it has to take its own decisions. Therefore it has a higher level of intelligence than drones. A powerful on-board computer is part of the machine," Kumar said.
The robots are also programmed to handle emergencies on their own.
"It may face obstacles under the water and so it is programmed how to act in case of an emergency," the fourth-year undergraduate student of Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture department said.
Even in the case of the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which went missing last year in the Indian Ocean, UAVs were assigned to locate the debris inside the sea.