Cowabunga: Swiss Boffins Working on Robot Turtle

Naro-Tartaruga is a robotic sea turtle from ETH Zurich

2 min read
Cowabunga: Swiss Boffins Working on Robot Turtle

Of all the scary and dangerous robot animals, turtles are almost (but not quite) on the very bottom of the list, just above robotic baby harp seals.* But that's fine, because turtles are great at lots of things that aren't scary and dangerous (like swimming around in the vast and heartless ocean), and researchers in a certain landlocked European country that isn't Austria are working to make a new one.

Naro-Tartaruga is a robotic sea turtle from ETH Zurich. The reason to go with a sea turtle, as opposed to something boring like a fish, is because sea turtles are both easier to construct and better for carrying payload. Unlike a fish, sea turtles (or sturts as we call them in the biz) don't have articulated bodies, but they do have big fat shells that you can fill with all kinds of cool stuff like sensors and batteries and, er, cooler things than that. Propulsion and steering come from flapping fins, just like the real thing. And with a top speed of just over 7 kph, Naro-Tartaruga will be leaving most real sea turtles in the dust (or whatever the underwater equivalent is).

Looks pretty sexy to me, but then, I'm kinda into the whole flipper thing. That said, we're also really linking the shell in the concept image, which appears to come equipped with either jet thrusters or rear-firing photon torpedos.

Naro-Tartaruga is scheduled to take its first underwater jaunt sometime later this month.

[ Naro-Tartaruga ]

Thanks @grok_!

*Caution: Paro comes equipped with an unlockable brutality mode. Users are advised not to place Paro in situations in which it might feel threatened. Doing so may subject the user to death, dismemberment, hurt feelings, and/or death, and will void Paro's warranty.

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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