Auckland diver uses high-tech glove to move underwater robot in Croatia
A diver in Auckland waved his hand while wearing a high-tech glove that moved an underwater robot to Croatia.
The diving glove, developed by a research institute at the University of Auckland, is made with built-in sensors and wearable electronics.
The theory is that a diver makes gestures with the gloved hand, and these gestures are recognized in real time by a machine learning algorithm. Then the commands or messages are sent acoustically through the water to a diving buddy or robot.
The glove was developed by the biomimetic lab at the university’s Auckland Institute of Bioengineering, using motion capture sensors made by the StretchSense lab spin-out.
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Initially, the plan was to take the glove for testing on the Adriatic Sea coast in Croatia, to see how well it could communicate with an autonomous underwater vehicle developed by Croatia, the University of Auckland said. .
But Covid-19 travel restrictions thwarted those plans. Instead, last month the glove was tested in indoor pools in Auckland and Croatia.
Acoustic signals, sent when the diver in the Auckland pool waved his hand while wearing the glove, were picked up by a sonar receiver at the poolside and transmitted to a server in Croatia. The signal was then converted back to sound transmitted to the AUV in the Croatian pool.
The robot on the other side of the world moved in real time in response to the gestures sent by the diver, said Professor Iain Anderson, director of the biomimetic laboratory. We hoped to be able to further develop the project in Croatia in 2021.
The research – conducted in collaboration with the University of Zagreb and funded by the US Office of Naval Research – aimed to improve the safety of divers, Anderson said.
“Our research will improve diver-diver and diver-machine communication in a world where you often cannot see more than a few meters.”