A robot to find undersea carbon dioxide
The autonomous underwater robot FeelHippo, developed by the University of Florence, one of the member of ISME, was employed at Vulcano Island to "map" carbon dioxide bubbles in the sea, responsible for negative effects on underwater fauna and flora. The experiment was conducted by Italian researchers in collaboration with Jacobs University of Bremen.
"The measurements - says Alessandro Ridolfi (ISME - University of Florence) - are usually taken by divers equipped with cameras, able to report very rough data, and only related to marine environments accessible to humans. We therefore conducted a first experiment with the underwater robot FeelHippo, an autonomous vehicle equipped with cameras and sonar, able to map the CO2 bubbles in the water. "
FeelHippo was developed in 2013 by the University of Florence, one of the members of ISME, including nine Italian universities engaged in research on technologies for the sea and ocean.
"The vehicle uses both optical and acoustic sensors - Ridolfi continues -: in water, sound waves are the main means of exploration and communication. The robot's sonar launches acoustic waves that, meeting a gas bubble, produce a characteristic "echo", which is detected by the robot and "counted" as a bubble.
In this project we are collaborating with a team from Jacobs University composed of engineers, biologists and geologists, who can then use the data collected by FeelHippo to study the impact of the acidification produced by carbon dioxide on the marine environment. "
The experiment of the two teams was conducted as part of the European initiative EUMarineRobots, which brings together the most important European research institutes and Univesities in marine robotics, with the aim of sharing technologies and infrastructures to build a European community of sea researchers with a common knowledge platform.
ISME is part of the project, having made available the technologies and robots developed by its researchers, such as FeelHippo.