The U-CAT, an adorable turtle-shaped robot designed to explore underwater wrecks, debuts today in the Robot Safari exhibit at the London Science Museum. The robot has been specially designed to maneuver the same way sea turtles do, using four independently-driven flippers to swim, turn in place, and hover. The robot is equipped with an onboard camera that will allow researchers to reconstruct underwater sites based on the video footage.

Because the U-CAT doesn’t use a propeller, it can move without disturbing the water around it or beating up silt from the ocean floor. This increased visibility and its small size make the robot perfect for exploring sites that are too small for existing underwater robots to penetrate. It has the added benefit of being less expensive and less dangerous than sending in a human diver to explore.

The U-CAT is the creation of designer Taavi Salumäe of the Center for Biorobotics at the Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia. The robot is part of the EU-funded ARROWS research project aimed at creating innovative new “archaeological robot systems for the world’s seas.” The technologies developed over the course of the project will be put to the test in the Mediterranean Sea and the Baltic Sea in 3-5 years’ time.

Photos © Tallinn University of Technology

Via NotCot