We can thank MIT for adding another piece of weaponry to our future oil spill cleanup arsenal. Dubbed the Seaswarm, this autonomous 16-foot long, 7- foot wide robot features an oil-absorbing conveyor belt covered with a nanowire mesh, carefully designed to absorb up to 20 times its weight in oil all while repelling water. But as impressive as that may sound, perhaps the best feature of this new bot is the fact that it is completely autonomous. Affixed with two square meters of solar panels, unlike traditional oil skimmers which require frequent maintenance, the Seaswarm can run at full power continuously for weeks on end. Jump ahead to see a video of this amazing robot in action.
As the name implies, the Seaswarm robots are intended to be used en masse, with wireless communication and GPS ensuring that a group of robots effectively cover the entire area of a spill. And according to MIT, a swarm of 5,000 robots could clean up a Deepwater Horizon-sized spill in a month. Not bad for a fleet of robots.