一个聪明的机器人在海洋'暮光区'中的生物间谍

温馨提示:全文约3963字,阅读全文大约需要4分钟

地球上最盛大的迁徙不是非洲的一些食草动物的旅程或天空中的鸟类,而是整个生态系统在开阔的海洋中的垂直运动。今天在中国科学机器人中,一支工程师和海洋学家介绍了他们如何锁定有机体的新自治水下车辆,并在海洋的“暮光区”沿着海洋的运动,一个慢性深入的乐队在650英尺和3,200英尺之间深处,哪些科学家也称为中水。由于一些聪明的工程,研究人员这样做了,而不会慌张这些高度敏感的动物,使Mesobot成为海洋摄影师的开创性新工具。

地球上最盛大的迁徙不是非洲的一些食草动物的旅程或天空中的鸟类,而是整个生态系统在开阔的海洋中的垂直运动。从鱼到甲壳类动物的各种动物,在白天的深处闲逛,黑暗提供捕食者的保护。在晚上,他们迁移到浅滩到牧草。然后,当太阳升起时,他们会再次游回来 - 一个伟大的生物量传送带。

但现在一个间谍游泳在其中:中美洲。今天在中国科学机器人中,一支工程师和海洋学家介绍了他们如何锁定有机体的新自治水下车辆,并在海洋的“暮光区”沿着海洋的运动,一个慢性深入的乐队在650英尺和3,200英尺之间深处,哪些科学家也称为中水。由于一些聪明的工程,研究人员这样做了,而不会慌张这些高度敏感的动物,使Mesobot成为海洋摄影师的开创性新工具。

“这是从工程立场超级凉爽,”东北大学机器人Hanumant Singh说,他开发了海洋机器人,但没有参与这项研究。 “在看着海洋中未开发的地区,这真是一件惊人的工作。”

Mesobot看起来像一个巨大的黄色和黑色的Airpods案例,只有它更加防水,重量为550磅。它可以用连接到表面的研究容器的光纤系绳,或自由游泳。

Mesobot的第一位聪明的工程是其推进系统 - 大型慢动作的螺旋桨,可以产生低速射流。 “为什么我们这么关注扰乱水?”询问Dana Yoerger,Woods Opeographic Ineopographic IneachitutionIneachçis和铅作家的高级科学家。 “大多数中水动物对任何流体动力学扰动都非常敏感。因为通常,那是什么东西来吃它们。“如果你打扰这些动物,你就没有观察到他们的自然行为。 (除非你对他们惹恼了什么。)

第二个聪明的技巧确保Mesobot通过用光爆炸它们不会打扰其受试者。嗯,至少不是白光。 Yoerger和他的团队选择了一个红色的梁,因为它没有渗透海水。 “进化不会浪费很多不能很好地工作的能力,因此大多数动物对红灯盲目,”Yoerger说。这就是为什么当你看到在深海突然弹出的生物发光的生物,它们是蓝色或绿色。 “我们使用红色,”yoerger继续说:“即使红色是漂亮的,因为它不会走得太远。但它并不像动物一样。这是一个很好的记录。所以这是一个折磨:你需要很多光,你需要一个敏感的相机,然后你可以用红色工作。“

使用立体声相机和检测算法,Mesobot解析其受试者的动作并跟随它们。 yoerger和他的同事们在蒙特里湾展示了650英尺深的机器人的能力,因为它被检测到,然后追求狩猎水母。更令人印象深刻,半小时令人偷偷摸摸地遵循一个叫做幼虫动物的脆弱的动物,这类似于蝌蚪,并建造一个巨大的粘液“房子”来过滤其食物。 (机器人最终扰乱了房子的极其敏感的外部结构,但房子的内在结构和动物本身保持不受干扰。)基于他们的测试,该团队估计机器人可能能够在24小时内运行,达到深度3,200英尺。

目前,美贝多特无法收集动物,但在未来,它可以采用吸入系统来扼杀它们。只需观察相机的海洋生物就不会告诉你他们一直在吃什么,因此它们适应食物网络 - 你需要对此进行解剖。如果您想研究他们的生理学,您也需要一个物理标本。 “这个想法是你追随动物一段时间,然后你抓住它。我认为这是非常可行的,“Yoerger说。

Mesobot可能看起来像一个大的Airpods案例,但与其他船员和海洋机器人相比,它实际上非常紧凑。也许最着名的是alvin,树林孔海洋学机构也运作。它重45,000磅,只能从一个特定的船上发射。 Mesobot的较小尺寸意味着构建和更轻松地部署的更便宜,这可能会使平台开放到更多的研究人员。 “这是另一个大奖,”东北大学辛格说。 “它不需要所有这些额外的东西大型绞车,大船。”

科学家们渴望着名,物种正在进行日常垂直迁移,但直到现在他们必须通过在不同的深度捕捉它们来研究它,或者通过声纳在给定时间占据他们在聚集的地方来研究它。毕竟,它不像你可以在水母或幼虫上拍打一个跟踪器,以便在精细的细节中监控其动作。 “我们对大量鱼类有这么少的观察,”加州科学院的鱼类策展人Luiz Rocha说,他在暮光区的珊瑚礁研究礁石,但没有参与这项新工作。 “我们甚至不知道他们是如何游泳的,更不用说他们如何吃东西或它们如何重现。”


英文译文:

The grandest migration on Earth isn’t the journey of some herbivore in Africa or a bird in the sky, but the vertical movement of whole ecosystems in the open ocean. All kinds of animals, from fish to crustaceans, hang out in the depths during the day, where the darkness provides protection from predators. At night, they migrate up to the shallows to forage. Then they swim back down again when the sun rises—a great big conveyor belt of biomass.

But now a spy swims among them: Mesobot. Today in the journal Science Robotics, a team of engineers and oceanographers describes how they got a new autonomous underwater vehicle to lock onto movements of organisms and follow them around the ocean’s “twilight zone,” a chronically understudied band between 650 feet and 3,200 feet deep, which scientists also refer to as mid-water. Thanks to some clever engineering, the researchers did so without flustering these highly sensitive animals, making Mesobot a groundbreaking new tool for oceanographers.

“It’s super cool from an engineering standpoint,” says Northeastern University roboticist Hanumant Singh, who develops ocean robots but wasn’t involved in this research. “It's really an amazing piece of work, in terms of looking at an area that's unexplored in the ocean.”

Mesobot looks like a giant yellow-and-black AirPods case, only it’s rather more waterproof and weighs 550 pounds. It can operate with a fiber-optic tether attached to a research vessel at the surface, or swim around freely.

Mesobot’s first bit of clever engineering is its propulsion system—large, slow-moving propellers that create low-velocity jets. “Why are we so concerned about disturbing the water?” asks Dana Yoerger, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and lead author on the paper. “Most mid-water animals are extremely sensitive to any hydrodynamic disturbance. Because usually, that's something coming to eat them.” If you’re disturbing these animals, you’re not observing their natural behaviors. (Unless you’re curious about what annoys them.)

The second clever trick ensures that Mesobot doesn’t bother its subjects by blasting them with light. Well, at least not white light. Yoerger and his team opted for a red beam because it doesn’t penetrate seawater well. “Evolution doesn't waste a lot of capability on stuff that doesn't work very well, so most animals are blind to red light,” says Yoerger. That’s why when you see bioluminescent critters popping off in the deep sea, they’re blue or green. “We use red,” Yoerger continues, “even though red is pretty lousy, because it doesn't go very far. But it doesn't spook the animals as much. And that's pretty well documented. So it's a trade off: You need a lot of light, you need a sensitive camera, and then you can work in the red.”

Using stereo cameras and detection algorithms, Mesobot parses its subjects’ movements and follows them. Yoerger and his colleagues demonstrated the robot’s capabilities in Monterey Bay at 650 feet deep, as it detected and then pursued a hunting jellyfish. Even more impressive, for a half hour it surreptitiously followed a fragile animal called a larvacean, which resembles a tadpole and builds a giant mucus “house” to filter its food. (The robot did eventually disturb the extremely sensitive outer structure of the house, but the house's inner structure and the animal itself remained undisturbed.) Based on their testing, the team reckons the robot might be able to operate for over 24 hours and reach depths of 3,200 feet.

For now, Mesobot can’t collect animals, but in the future it could employ a suction system to nab them. Just observing sea creatures with a camera won’t tell you what they’ve been eating, for instance, and therefore where they fit into the food web—you’d need a dissection for that. If you want to study their physiology, you need a physical specimen, too. “The idea would be you'd follow an animal for a while, and then you'd grab it. I think that's very doable,” says Yoerger.

Mesobot may look like a big AirPods case, but compared to other crewed submersibles and ocean robots, it’s actually quite compact. Perhaps the most famous of all is Alvin, which the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution also operates. It weighs 45,000 pounds and can only launch from one specific ship. Mesobot’s smaller size means it’s cheaper to build and more easily deployable, which will likely open the platform up to more researchers. “That's another big win,” says Singh, of Northeastern University. “It doesn't need all this extra stuff—large winches, large ships.”

Scientists have long known that species are conducting a daily vertical migration, but up until now they’ve had to study it by catching them at different depths, or by using sonar to pinpoint where they are congregating at a given time. After all, it’s not like you can slap a tracker on a jellyfish or larvacean to monitor its movements in fine detail. “We have so few observations about a lot of fish,” says Luiz Rocha, curator of fishes at the California Academy of Sciences, who studies reefs in the twilight zone but wasn’t involved in this new work. “We don’t even know how they swim, let alone how they eat or how they reproduce.”


Share this Post:

相关资讯: