New Underwater Navigation Technology Inspired By Marine Animals

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One of the marine animals called mantis shrimp inspired scientist for developing new polarized light-based underwater navigation system

There are very limited options avaible for navigating route through ocean. New breakthrough for underwater navigation is inspired from marine animals, which use the polarizing light. “We studied marine animals as we believe some species could be using the polarization of light to navigate, and our new study is a proof of concept that this is possible,” said Dr Samuel Powell, research fellow at Australia’s University of Queensland and member of the research team.

Previous studies reported that marine animals such as squid, shrimp, cuttlefish and octopus use polarized light to communicate, which are not visible to humans without using specialized lenses. Marine creatures use this light to detect and reflect it to reveal their presence to aggressive competitors. Also, they were reported to use light to navigate, and built an imaging system equipped with polarization sensors. These sensors rely on the light’s transmission and scattering through the water and use these patterns to work out the sun’s position in the sky, which makes the system able to be used as a compass and for geolocalization purposes.

To examine the efficiency of the system, it was tested at different underwater locations around the world, at varying depths and times of day. The early data obtained from the study suggests that margin for error for its geolocalization system to be six meters (20 ft) for every kilometer (0.62 mi) traveled. While still in its proof of concept stage, the researchers believe with further development the technique could enable navigation at depths of up to 200 m (656 ft) for sustained periods of time. The research was published in the journal Science Advances in April 2018.

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