MIT Builds Robots to Clean Oil Spills

Tech is too late for Gulf, but may prove useful
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2010 7:07 AM CDT

(Newser) – A fleet of robots to clean up oil spills for us: Sounds pretty nice, right? Thanks to some smart people at MIT, we'll soon have exactly that. Researchers have developed a robotic prototype called Seaswarm that can autonomously navigate waterways, sucking oil off the surface of the ocean using super-absorbent "nanofabric," Reuters reports. The prototype is solar powered and measures about 16 feet long by 7 feet wide.

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Unlike traditional skimmers, these robots will be able to operate around the clock and sneak into small spots, like estuaries. Unfortunately, the new technology can't be deployed just yet. "It's too late for the gulf disaster," the lead researcher tells the Los Angeles Times. "I guess they will be more useful in a next spill." (Click here for the latest on the Gulf oil spill.)

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