IIT Madras student’s Underwater Robotic Masterpiece may soon find a place in Indian Naval operations

A masterpiece by an IIT Madras student has left the top defense research body in the country DRDO completely in awe of him.

Master of Science student Santhosh Ravichandran recently created a first-of-its-kind turtle shaped under-water robot named Duli in just three months’ time. His version of model has bio-inspired propeller which is similar to the fins of a dolphin. Its unique features include unique hydrodynamics, energy efficiency, and ability to camouflage, and is therefore a better alternative for military applications.

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Officials of the DRDO are in talks with the student as well the faculty of IIT Madras, and it wants to test the robot by installing its own sensors on it. Through this the DRDO wants to ascertain whether the robot is ready for military purpose or needs fine tuning.

According to Ravichandran, his robot can give 70% energy efficiency due to its bio-inspired flap movement, which is much higher than the 30% energy efficiency that is given by the currently available under-water robots as they use mechanical thrusters.

Duli can do visual inspection even in the undercurrent of the ocean, claims Santhosh, besides surveying coral reefs without damaging the marine eco-system as it uses a rapid long motion to move.

It gathered much praise when a prototype was exhibited earlier this year at Underwater Interventions expo in United States, where even the US Navy was a participant.

Even as the product is still at a preliminary stage and needs practical testing as per Project Head and Associate Professor Mr Prabhu Rajagopal, all the basic requirements are covered.

An autonomous version is expected to be ready in a few months, and there’s little doubt this spectacular masterpiece will soon be deployed under water and helping our military personnel.
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