Drone for the water unveiled by UH engineers

Robot would help with everything from tsunamis to molasses spills

Published  12:52 PM HST Oct 17, 2013
Unmanned Port Security Vessel
HONOLULU -

It's 6-feet-long, 4-feet-wide, weighs 160 pounds and capable of doing what the U.S. Coast Guard needs.

It's called an Unmanned Port Security Vessel.  It's created by a team of engineers from the University of Hawaii and built to protect harbors and lives.

Click here to see Lara Yamada's report.

"If there's a tsunami, a hurricane, a terrorist event, to go out and collect information to reopen the port as quickly as possible," said Dr. Brian Bingham, UPSV project coordinator.

Packed with computers, cameras, and sensors, the robotic Roomba can scan ports day and night with its infrared eye, map debris with painstaking detail -- line by line or programmed by controllers, or monitor water quality.  The Coast Guard says they could have used one during the massive molasses spill last month.

"One of our taglines is solving the problems that matter most," said Jac Fought of Battelle. "So it's going after these problems and I just see this as the first of many things we're going to do with the University of Hawaii."

Global innovation leader Battelle already wants to make one into many.  The company is asking for 20 units a year, but says it would love to make 100 -- a sign UH students are on track toward a successful future.

"Events like this where they can see the project all the way to the end, they understand what it's like to really do this in the real world," said Dr. Bingham.

The project is part of the UH Innovation Innovation Initiative.  The university's goal is to partner with the community to build a $1 billion annual research enterprise in Hawaii to create thousands of jobs.

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