One of the best things about technological advancements, is finding all of the weird and wonderful ways in which they can benefit other industries. The memory foam developed for astronauts by NASA has found a myriad of uses in healthcare and in comfortable gadgets, mattresses and cushions and carbon fibre has found uses far beyond the light filaments it was originally created for. The same goes for driver-aid technologies, with Nissan’s specialised 360 degree camera built for connected cars, now seeing usage in undersea robotic exploration.
The camera system, initially called the Around View Monitor, was designed to give drivers a birds eye view of 360 degree coverage around their vehicle, letting them know about vehicles in blind spots or other potential dangers. However now that same technology is being utilised in the creation of a new robotic undersea exploration vehicle, built in conjunction with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and Tokyo steel manufacturer, Topy Industries.
“The goal is to improve the efficiency of undersea searches by avoiding obstacles on the seabed with better real-time situational awareness,” a Nissan spokesperson said in a statement (via WSJ).
The reason for utilising the Nissan technology is because to date, manoeuvring underwater was very difficult and required the operator using feeds from multiple cameras to orient themselves. However, with Nissan’s camera system, the operator can use just one video stream to figure out where they are and where they’re going.
It’s hoped that with the new camera system in place, the little robotic devices will be more able to explore the ocean floor for all manners of flora, fauna and potentially natural resources too. The sea floor remains one of the most unexplored areas of our planet, with just a few per cent of its great vastness accurately mapped out. Being able to travel to the bottom of the ocean without fear of becoming trapped or damaging equipment by having a much better view of operations, could revolutionise and accelerate the investigation of what secrets the deepest parts of our planet hold.
This is just the beginning however. Beyond this singular undersea robot, Nissan also has plans to develop other autonomous vehicles and rovers which could conceivably be used in a number of different environments. By 2020, Nissan envisages having created a number of distinct autonomous drive vehicles, but then this isn’t too surprising considering the technology is also being built for consumer focused vehicles like cars and lorries.