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Chinese Scientists Demonstrate First Maritime Salvage Robot

Chinese scientists demonstrated Saturday their latest invention of a maritime salvage robot, the first of its kind in China, at the ongoing Second China International Equipment Manufacturing Exposition held in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province.


The robot, which looks like two small rockets bound together, is nearly one meter long, weighs 30 kilograms and can swim at a speed of three meters per second in billowy seas, according to the Shenyang Automation Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which developed and patented the machine.


"In most cases, hurricanes and rough seas easily hinder maritime salvage vessels from approaching ships in danger and may even cause the two ships to collide," said Yan Kuichen, an engineer from the CAS Shenyang Automation Institute.


According to Yan, sometimes rescuers have to observe a ship going down when all it needs is buoys or a rope. This is where the robot can help out.


The upper part of the robot is furnished with a radio signal receiver, compass and various chips. The lower part carries two turbines and nickel-hydrogen batteries.


The model has passed tests in both simulated and real sea environments, noted Yan.


When given orders via remote control from up to one kilometer away, the robot can quickly reach people struggling in rough water and throw them life preservers. The longest distance the robot can swim at one time is 4.8 kilometers.


Information such as traveling speed, direction and energy reserves can be transmitted back to the remote controller.


In addition to sending buoys and ropes to victims of maritime accidents, the robot can also drag people and ships with up to four people on board away from accident sites, according to previous test results.


"Designed as a tumbler, the robot can always ride waves and will never overturn. It is quick to respond to orders sent by remote control," Yan said.


The robot could later be applied in many other areas, including anti-terrorism activities and transmitting goods between two ships in an emergency.


According to Yan, the design will go into mass production soon and be sold in China's mainland, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and foreign countries such as the United States.

(Xinhua News Agency, September 7, 2003)

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