Record-breaking Underwater Drone: The Ocean One
Underwater exploration has always been regarded as a challenging task as it involves diving into the unknown depths of the ocean. However, this perception is changing with the introduction of the Ocean One. Designed by Meka Robotics and Stanford experts, the Ocean One is a humanoid underwater drone that has set industry standards by performing underwater tasks that were previously deemed inaccessible. This groundbreaking technological invention is equipped with haptic feedback that allows users to physically interact with the underwater environment and feel the sensation through their hands.
The Ocean One’s top half is a humanoid robot that has two robotic arms and two cameras in the face for operators to see in 3D. Its lower half has eight multi-directional thrusters that enable precise underwater maneuvering. The underwater robot’s haptic feedback system relies on touch and stereo vision to create incredibly realistic sensations for the operator. Through the Ocean One’s robotic eyes, the human operators can see the underwater environment in high definition.
The purpose of the Ocean One robot is two-fold: to discover areas that no one else has explored before and to showcase that human touch, vision, and interaction can reach locations that were previously far removed from human access. The Ocean One had numerous memorable adventures and accomplishments during its two long-distance trips across the Mediterranean. The most notable achievement of its crew was the demonstration of operational autonomy for more than one thousand meters down. It marked the first time ever that underwater robots were capable of providing haptic feedback-based interaction at this depth.
The Ocean One robot’s journey to the one kilometer mark was an extended effort that started with countless hours of design experimentation and assembly with team members in the lab. Dozens of trips to the Stanford pool for debugging and a myriad of lessons were learned before facing the unpredictability of the deep sea. The first version of this underwater drone humanoid robot was built with the intention of being able to reach depths of only 200 meters. To allow the robot to go deeper, the scientists adapted the body to incorporate a special foam made from glass microspheres. These glass microspheres provide buoyancy and are strong enough to withstand the mass of pressure at one kilometer depths which is 100 times more than that of sea level.
The robotic arms contain an oil-filled spring mechanism that compresses the oil to match the pressure outside to prevent collapse or cushioning of the electronic components. The researchers also revised several tiny components across Ocean One to limit the amount of compressed air within individual parts while keeping the robot as small as possible. Ocean One included additional improvements that increased the flexibility of its head and arm motions, as well as two different types of hands.
The Ocean One project is not just a showcase for the latest innovations in haptic feedback technology, underwater drone robotics, and human-robot interaction. It also offers new possibilities for underwater engineering and marine science activities, including checking and fixing boats and infrastructure such as bridges, piers, and pipelines that are submerged. Other expeditions are planned for several locations across the globe such as lost cities in deep waters, coral reefs, and archaeologically valuable wrecks that lie at depths that are beyond the reach of human beings. These kinds of humanoid underwater drone robotics can go deep underwater to look for and acquire materials, build infrastructure and conduct emergency recovery or disaster prevention operations. In the future, they can also be adapted to operate deep inside mines, on top of mountains, or even in space.
Reading Minds through Breakthrough Artificial Intelligence
Apart from revolutionizing underwater exploration, modern-day technology has made significant strides in reading human minds. A breakthrough artificial intelligence translates brain waves into natural language, allowing scientists to decode people’s thoughts. The innovation allows scientists to read thoughts by using an AI model specifically developed to interpret brain waves. The non-invasive technology, invented at the University of Texas, is expected to aid those who are unable to speak so they can communicate easily for the first time. Moreover, this AI-tech is also able to decode human speech in real-time.
The technology works by providing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fnri) to the machine learning algorithm, which reconstructs any stimuli the person is listening to or thinking about into natural language. For example, participants listen to stories narrated by a storyteller while scientists scan the brain regions associated with natural language. Then they transfer the brain scan data to the machine learning decoder, which produces an overview of what the subject had been listening to. Until now, this procedure had only been achieved by implanting electrodes inside the brain.
The new technology provides an idea of the patient’s thoughts by recognizing patterns in the brain scans using machine learning. However, it cannot discern what the patients are thinking word for word. This is because the human brain converts complex ideas into smaller pieces that correspond to a part of the overall thought process. Ideas could appear as straightforward as just one word like the word “dog,” or as intricate as “I need to walk my dog.” The brain also has its own alphabet of sorts, composed of 42 elements that represent an idea such as size, color, or location and blends all of these together to create more complicated ideas. Each letter is processed by a distinct part of the brain. Therefore, when you combine all these different components, it’s possible to literally read someone’s mind.
The three brain regions analyzed were the prefrontal network, the classical language network, and the parietal temporal occipital association network. The machine learning algorithm later analyzed the scans to look at features and the audio with patterns of recorded brain activity. The system also showed that it could take the scan data and transform it into a story based on the material that the team discovered, which was consistent with the ideas of the stories narrated by the actors.
While the AI algorithm may not be capable of breaking down each word that a person is thinking, it can decipher whatever story each person has heard. In additional tests, the AI could fairly accurately explain the plot of a silent movie that the participants were watching in the scanner. It was even able to retell a story that the participants imagined themselves telling in their minds. The study published on bioxiv tells a story about “looking for a text message from my wife telling me that she had changed her mind and she would be returning.” This algorithm decoded the message to be “to see her, for some reason, I thought maybe she would come to me and say she misses me.”
The machine learning algorithm isn’t perfect yet, and makes some mistakes like confusing characters, pronouns, and the use of the first and third person. The AI knows what’s happening pretty accurately but not who is doing the things. In the future, the research team aims to develop this technology so it can be used in brain-computer interfaces designed for people who cannot speak or type. But over the longer term, this technology could help humans merge with computers entirely and bring about a future of shared consciousness between all humans and machines.
The Ocean One robot and the breakthrough AI technology that reads human minds are a testament to how technology is improving our lives. The Ocean One robot has transformed underwater exploration by providing an opportunity to discover new places that were previously beyond reach. At the same time, breakthrough AI technology can help those who are unable to speak, thereby improving their quality of life. These technological advancements demonstrate how the power of science and engineering can help us achieve new frontiers. We can only imagine what the future holds, but one thing is sure – technology will continue to transform our world in remarkable ways.