The bionic stingray that watches and monitors the oceans

Proper management of the oceans of planet Earth is key to ensuring the sustainability of aquatic ecosystems. Therefore, students of the Northwest Polytechnic University, in China’s Shaanxi province, have created a submersible, bionic ray fish that can collect data on hydrological information, raise seagrass beds and analyze the health status of fish.

The project started in 2016 and since then four prototypes have been created. The latter, with three meters in length, has exceeded expectations by managing to submerge up to 1,025 meters deep. The tests have been carried out on the island of Xisha, in the South China Sea.

According to the United Nations, open ocean spaces show that current acidity levels have increased by 26% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Hence the importance of technology of this type, which could help the study of water. And it is that it allows to collect data on its quality in complex and difficult-to-reach areas.

This prototype is capable of operating for long hours, which makes it the first underwater bionic vehicle able to perform these tasks.

Bionics and biological phenomena

Animals and plants have a great capacity for adaptability to the environment, a characteristic that arouses the interest of bionics. As a science, it seeks the development of artificial organs that recall natural functioning by electromechanical means.

That is why, for the last five years, the team of underwater autonomous vehicles of the School of Navigation of the Northwestern Polytechnic University has observed and studied the movement of the manta ray live.

Through their research, the researchers have discovered that the characteristics of this fish are ideal to apply to the technology they were developing. They are species with a large body with a shape that facilitates the construction of these devices.

In addition, its low-noise gliding movements reduce energy use and improve navigation performance.

The Chinese bionic ray has managed to submerge up to 1,025 meters deep

The bionic streak is the result of the importance of research in technological innovation in underwater life (SDG 14). The UN proclaims the period 2001-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development, with the aim of providing greater sources of funding for research in this area.

The creation of devices like this submersible bionic stingray allows to increase the knowledge and provide solutions to problems in the oceans.

Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO already made it clear in 2017: “We have many knowledge gaps about the oceans, despite their crucial role in keeping our planet safe and breathable.”

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