There are a number of strategies of oyster farming, one among which includes elevating the molluscs in luggage that float on the ocean’s floor. These heavy luggage should be incessantly flipped over, so a crew of MIT college students has designed an “Oystamaran” robotic to make the job simpler.
Though they’re described as luggage, the oyster-raising cages are extra like flat, sq. mesh pens with cylindrical floats on two reverse sides.
As the baggage sit within the water, marine organisms corresponding to barnacles and algae accumulate on their undersides. Flipping them over exposes these organisms to the daylight and air, to allow them to be chipped off as soon as they’ve dried out. Doing so retains the organisms from accumulating to the purpose that they block water circulation by way of the baggage, which is important to the oysters’ survival.
The MIT undertaking started when marine biologist Dan Ward – who owns the Ward Aquafarms oyster-farming firm in Cape Cod – instructed Prof. Michael Triantafyllou how the two,000-plus luggage at his farms must be flipped about 11 occasions a yr. Presently, the duty is carried out by employees in kayaks, who battle to maintain their stability whereas flipping luggage that may weigh as much as 70 lb (32 kg) as soon as the oysters are mature.
Looking for a much less labor-intensive different, a crew of Triantafyllou’s ocean engineering college students set about creating a bag-flipping robotic. Led by Michelle Kornberg (who has since graduated), they created the Oystamaran electrical catamaran.
The machine begins by straddling a bag between its pontoons. It then makes use of a hooked robotic arm to succeed in down and grasp the float on one facet of the bag, after which it pulls that arm again up and to the opposite facet, lifting and flipping the bag within the course of.
Though the robotic presently performs a lot of its work by real-time distant management, the scholars are engaged on making it totally autonomous. It can then use one forward-facing digital camera to initially determine and make its method over to every bag, after which it should use a downward-facing digital camera to align itself over the bag and carry out the flip.
It’s hoped that when developed additional – maybe by an trade associate – the expertise might assist oyster farmers to extend their output, whereas additionally fostering curiosity within the area of aquaculture robotics.
“Simply by exhibiting the way in which, this can be the primary of a variety of robots,” says Triantafyllou. “It can appeal to expertise to ocean farming, which is a good problem, and in addition a profit for society to have a dependable means of manufacturing meals from the ocean.”
The Oystamaran might be seen in motion, within the following video.
Automating aquaculture with robots