Are you a fan of snakes? If not, you won’t approve of the latest collaboration between the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Kongsberg Maritime, and Statoil: Let us introduce you to Eelume, a self-propelled, aquatic, mechanical serpent.
A current operational model of the new cyber sea snakes. Kongsberg Gruppen via YouTube
As you may have noticed, humans aren’t particularly suited to living underwater, let alone performing complex repair jobs beneath the waves. This is where this peculiar, otherworldly, and downright wriggly robot creature comes in.
Perfectly adapted to swimming through the water – rather like a real sea snake – it is designed to examine submerged equipment, inspecting it for damage and undertaking simple maintenance tasks using inbuilt pincers and other small tools. If they’re in a hurry, they can use on-board thrusters for a speed boost.
Sneaking cyber sea snakes. Kongsberg Gruppen via YouTube
At the moment, these mecha-snakes are just a work-in-progress, which explains why very little technical details have bene divulged by the three companies. They also appear to be attached to a power cable that extends up above the water, which would be a serious limitation in real-life situations involving the dangerous, dark depths of the world’s oceans.
Concept imagery of a squadron of cyber sea snakes. Statoil via YouTube
Still, it’s a pretty cool concept, one that may someday save companies a ton of money when sizeable, lumbering, and somewhat clumsy submersible vehicles – the type normally used to conduct underwater maintenance – are taken out of the equation.
The background to the research. Kongsberg Gruppen via YouTube