Ocean One: A Robotic Avatar for Oceanic Discovery

O. Khatib, X. Yeh, G. Brantner, B. Soe, B. Kim, S. Ganguly, H. Stuart, S. Wang, M. Cutkosky, A. Edsinger, P. Mullins, M. Barham, C.R. Voolstra, K.N. Salama, M. L'Hour, V. Creuze
IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, (2016)

Ocean One: A Robotic Avatar for Oceanic Discovery


Robotic Avatar, Oceanic Discovery


The promise of oceanic discovery has long intrigued scientists and explorers, whether with the idea of studying underwater cology and climate change or with the hope of uncovering natural resources and historic secrets buried deep in archaeological sites. This quest to explore the oceans requires skilled human access, yet much of the oceans are inaccessible to human divers; nearly nine-tenths of the ocean floor is at 1 km or deeper [1]. Accessing these depths is imperative since factors such as pollution and deep-sea trawling threaten ecology and archaeological sites. While remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are inadequate for the task, a robotic avatar could go where humans cannot and still embody human intelligence and intentions through immersive interfaces. To meet the challenge of accessing the oceanic depths, Stanford University in California, working with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology’s Red Sea Research Center in Saudi Arabia and Meka Robotics in California, developed Ocean One (Figure 1), a bimanual force-controlled humanoid robot that affords immediate and intuitive haptic interaction in oceanic environments. Teaming with the French Ministry of Culture’s Underwater Archaeology Research Department, Stanford deployed Ocean One in an expedition in the Mediterranean Sea to explore French King Louis XIV’s flagship the Lune, which lies at a 91-m depth off the coast of Toulon, France. Following extensive testing at Stanford University, Ocean One was flown to France in the spring of 2016 for its maiden deployment, when it became the first robot avatar to embody a human’s presence at the seabed.


DOI: 10.1109/MRA.2016.2613281


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