MIT Researchers Propose Solar Robots to Clean Up Oil Spills

The Deepwater Horizon disaster triggered a hot market for remedialtechnologies that can reduce the environmental impact of such a disaster in the future. We’ve reported about next-gen robotic technologies thatcould help clean oil spills at a fraction of the cost that BP spent.Researchers at MIT’s Senseable City Lab have a plan to unveil a prototype of their SeaSwarm technology that can contain a leak similar in size to the BP spill for just $200 million.

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The technology is based on the use of robots, 16ft long andincluding a 7ft wide solar-powered conveyor belt that is made of anoil-slurping nanowire mesh. The material is capable of isolating andabsorbing up to 20 times its weight in oil. The robots will use theprinciples of swarm robotics, where thousands of such devices will beinteracting and coordinating with each other using GPS and wirelesstechnology.

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The devices can either burn the oil they collect to keep themworking uninterrupted or can break away from their teams occasionally to deposit their oil in large, GPS-tagged floating reservoirs. A largetanker could come and collect oil from these reservoirs.

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Via: The New York Times

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