URI Researchers Develop New Equipment to Examine Deep-Sea Species

The University of Rhode Island, a Council member, has announced that assistant professor of ocean engineering Brennan Phillips has made advancements in the field of soft robotic grippers used to identify and safely collect delicate deep-sea species. URI’s Ocean Engineering Department is one of only a handful of similar engineering programs in the U.S.

To test the new material, Mr. Phillips was joined by two URI ocean engineering students and researchers from Harvard University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute on an expedition off the coast of Honolulu, HI. The trip’s purpose was to test and evaluate various soft robotic grippers to be used with a new deep-ocean hydraulic system. Mr. Phillips reported back that all of the systems were shown to work at depths of up to 1,200 meters, providing all researchers an invaluable experience beyond the lab.

“The Harvard engineers challenged us to build a drive system to handle their more-exotic soft manipulators and the ROV pilots shared with us the challenges of working in a deep-sea environment,” URI ocean engineering students Russell Shomberg said. “That’s something we would have never experienced in a lab.”

The Council congratulates URI’s Brennan Phillips and his research partners on this outstanding research and equipment development.

Read more in the Providence Business Journal.

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