Solar-Powered Robot Swarm Could Clean Up Oil

Solar-Powered Robot Swarm Could Clean Up Oil

Posted On: August 29, 2010
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Oil isn’t pretty in price or in form, but we are stuck with it for awhile yet. However, in the future, a swarm of autonomous robots might be able to handle oil spill cleanup. This new solar-powered robot prototype equipped with nanotechnology was designed by researchers at MIT. A giant swarm of these robots could be able to clean a Gulf of Mexico size area in just one month.

The robots are called “Seaswarm,” and are being developed at MIT’s Senseable City Lab. Right now, oil skimmers usually need to be attached to large fuel-intensive ships, and they have to go ashore for maintenance several times a month.

The Seaswarm prototype is 16 feet long by 7 feet wide and weighs just 35 pounds. The two square solar panels at the head propel the robot along the water’s surface, while a thin and flexible conveyor belt covered in oil-absorbing nanofabric rotates and mops up oil.