“Unleash the KRAKEN!” You must have heard this rather famous command being given by Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean. In the days to come, you might be able to hear it for real because the Kraken does exist. No, this is not a reference to the mythological titan of the seas. Kraken is a smart underwater robot that is being developed by the students of IIT Kharagpur for coming up with a viable alternatives for drones that can perform underwater.
As reported by NDTV, “Students at IIT Kharagpur are working on an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), which is more intelligent than drones and can perform assigned tasks underwater like searching for debris of a flight crashed in the sea”. This is not the first version of the Kraken. The students at the Centre for Robotics (IIT-KGP) have already created 2 versions of the AUV, and the third version is ready for testing. Kraken 3.0 is capable of achieving a depth of 10 meters without any manual assistance. This is definitely a great start for the students who have come up with an ingenious design that could one day prove to be a major life saver and contribute towards underwater exploration of sections that may not be safe enough for humans.
Kraken 3.0 being deployed underwater (Source: All India Roundup)
The Kraken is armed with cameras and strong sensors to enable it to sense the environment and navigate according to the prevailing conditions. The robot is 1.3 metres in length and has 6 thrusters which helps the robot to rotate itself in 5 directions. Such flexibility is quintessential for achieving and maintaining high performance underwater. The whole underwater scenario requires the robots to be smarter than drones because the wireless technology adopted for drones doesn’t work inside water. Moreover, underwater navigation requires precision programming in order to enable the robot to analyse its surrounding accurately.
Abhay Kumar, member of the electronics team (UAV project) and a fourth year student of Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture, told the Press Trust of India, “We pre-program it so that it can do specifically assigned tasks like underwater surveying, identifying lost objects or debris, picking them up, etc. It can also be used for conducting repairs under the hull of a ship. Once an AUV 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. It may face obstacles under the water and so it is programmed how to act in case of an emergency. The Robot is programmed very efficiently so that, it can face difficult hurdles under water and take proper decisions according to the emergency”.
The robots have been programmed in such a way that they are able to take decisions when faced with obstacles without requiring any human intervention for solutions. It is this feature which makes it superior to drones and has opened up a world of opportunities for developing prototypes that can travel to the deepest underwater areas and aid in underwater explorations.
Recently, UAVs were assigned to trace the debris under the sea at the time of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which went missing last year in the Indian Ocean. This operation required the UAVs to locate the debris and relay the report to the authorities who were monitoring the area. As of now, the UAVs are not designed for rescue operations, but they are able to relay vital information which would help in actual rescues. Real time applications for the UAV are still in the development phase and we should be able to see a glimpse of the features soon enough.
The UAV team at IIT Kharagpur is being guided by Professor C S Kumar of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Team members belong to different departments (Computer Science, Electronics, Ocean Engineering, Science and Physics), which makes it possible for all the aspects of the robot to be created and monitored precisely. The team will be participating in the International AUVSI RoboSub Competition which is scheduled to be held in July at San Diego (California).
Additionally, the team is also testing the prototype intensively at the hydrodynamics lab for making improvements in the current version. All of these efforts are directed at commercializing the AUV as an educational tool for which they are open to associations / partnerships with top entrepreneurs. The UAV has definitely opened up a world of opportunities for unmanned underwater explorations and operations. We might have already taken our step towards the future and this UAV is just one of the milestones that has been achieved.
- IIT Kharagpur Students Have Developed “Smart” Underwater Robots Called “The KRAKEN” - 12 May, 2015
- Researchers at Houston Create Camera Lenses That Can Turn Your Smartphone into Microscopes - 8 May, 2015
- Blackberry Partners with Infibeam to Launch a Limited-Period Only Loyalty Program for Blackberry 10 Smartphones - 6 May, 2015