The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico brings back a similar incident four years ago, when a single hull vessel loaded with 2.1 million liters of oil sank in the Guimaras Strait, scattering a huge slick that contaminated the Western Visayan sea.
It was a catastrophe that could have been avoided if the crew on board M/T Solar 1 had the equipment to check on the hull’s condition.
It is for these emergencies that Roboteknik devised the Angel One ROV (remotely-operated vehicle). The flagship product of Pobletech, Inc.’s research and development arm, the machine, later renamed Roboteknik i100, had won the National Inventions Contest in 2006 and topped the Aquatic Technology Competition in 2007.
It’s not the first underwater ROV in the world, but Roboteknik i100 is cheap, compact, and equipped with features that rival its bulkier and more expensive counterparts. Developed by Filipino engineers, it is the first commercially-available, locally manufactured underwater inspection robot, and is also the most affordable for its kind in Asia.
Michael Poblete, one of its creators, says the Roboteknik i100 can do the same extensive underwater monitoring as trained divers or expensive high-tech equipment, but for lighter pricetag. Fitted with a powerful video camera and data recording device, the robot can capture hundreds of hours of video feeds, either recorded or viewed live from its surface unit. And it’s rather easy to operate: main controls move the bot forward, backward, left and right. If a cable is damaged, or if the electricity current changes, the Roboteknik i100 automatically shuts down to prevent electrocution in the water. And once its source of power is cut, the device automatically floats to the surface, making it easy to retrieve.
The device can be used to monitor coral reefs and fish pens, inspect underwater structures, or check ports’ security. It can also detect hazardous zones that can puncture oil tankers and ships; scan long underwater pipelines; inspect dams, dikes, canals and other water reservoirs; measure the rate of a fish’s growth using optional scaling lasers; and aid in search and rescue operations.
Pobletech Roboteknik, which uses IP communications and sensor networks to produce and implement its hardware and software designs, is currently staffed by young local engineers. “We believe that dirty, hazardous and boring work are best done by machines controlled from afar by humans,” said Mr. Poblete, a mechanical engineering graduate of the Mapua Institute of Technology.
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