There are a number of strategies of oyster farming, certainly one of which entails elevating the molluscs in baggage that float on the ocean’s floor. These heavy baggage have to be often flipped over, so a staff of MIT college students has designed an “Oystamaran” robotic to make the job simpler.
Though they’re described as baggage, 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 resembling 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 movement by way of the baggage, which is crucial to the oysters’ survival.
The MIT venture started when marine biologist Dan Ward – who owns the Ward Aquafarms oyster-farming firm in Cape Cod – informed Prof. Michael Triantafyllou how the two,000-plus baggage at his farms should be flipped about 11 instances a yr. At the moment, the duty is carried out by employees in kayaks, who wrestle to maintain their steadiness whereas flipping baggage that may weigh as much as 70 lb (32 kg) as soon as the oysters are mature.
In search of a much less labor-intensive various, a staff 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 system begins by straddling a bag between its pontoons. It then makes use of a hooked robotic arm to achieve down and grasp the float on one aspect of the bag, after which it pulls that arm again up and to the opposite aspect, 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 absolutely autonomous. It should then use one forward-facing digital camera to initially determine and make its manner over to every bag, after which it’ll 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 business accomplice – the know-how might assist oyster farmers to extend their output, whereas additionally fostering curiosity within the discipline of aquaculture robotics.
“Simply by displaying the way in which, this can be the primary of quite a lot of robots,” says Triantafyllou. “It should entice expertise to ocean farming, which is a superb problem, and in addition a profit for society to have a dependable means of manufacturing meals from the ocean.”
The Oystamaran may be seen in motion, within the following video.
Automating aquaculture with robots