Professor Ryan Eustace, who teaches at the University of Michigan’s departments of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Mechanical Engineering, has developed new robot technology that can identify dangerous limpet mines adhering to ships of the U.S. Navy. This autonomous robot technology will save lives and relieves Navy divers of having to visually inspect the hulls of warships for deadly explosives.
Eustace’s technology provides optical real-time visual mapping and inspection of a ship's hull. The autonomous robot does away with present day mapping and inspection methods, which are both time-consuming and imprecise.
Eustace’s research interests include simultaneous localization and mapping for mobile robotics using visual perception, underwater image registration and processing, underwater vehicle navigation, and autonomous underwater vehicles. The project at the University of Michigan was done in cooperation with Bluefin Robotics, which is based in Quincy, Massachusetts. According to its website, "Bluefin Robotics develops, builds, and operates Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and related technologies for defense, commercial, and scientific customers worldwide. We offer a full range of modular, free-flooded AUV platforms."
The U.S. military is widely using unmanned aerial vehicles "drones" and robots for tasks such as targetted killing of insurgents, as well as the defusing of explosive ordnance. Increasingly, U.S. domestic law enforcement is also using robotics.