Submarine cultures perform long- term robotic exploration of unconventional environmental niches

Project description

information from the official web site subCULTron


The aim of subCULTron project is achieving long-term autonomy in a learning, self-regulating, self-sustaining underwater society/culture of robots in a high-impact application area: Venice, Italy.

Project's heterogeneous system consists of 3 different agent types:








aPads: These agents at the surface will provide global cognition, user interaction and energy autonomy for the whole system. aMussels: These very weakly actuated units will provide long-term spatial coverage.                                                  aFish: These highly manouverable agents will provide action and information transfer.                   


On the sea-ground, artificial mussels are the collective long-term memory of the system, allowing information to stay beyond the runtime of other agents, thus allowing to continue learning from previously learned states. These mussels monitor the natural habitat, including biological agents like algae, bacterial incrustation and fish.
On the water surface, artificial lily pads interface with the human society, delivering energy and information influx from ship traffic or satellite data.
Between those two layers, artificial fish move/monitor/explore the environment and exchange info with the mussels and lily pads. Artificial mussels are novel class of underwater agents.
We aim to push forward the edge of knowledge with novel sensors (electric sense/electro-communication), novel bio-inspired algorithms (underwater hives) and novel energy harvesting in underwater scenarios. We will improve the world’s record for swarm-size in autonomous collective underwater robotics by almost one order of magnitude. 

The application field is a human- and animal-co-inhabited real-world environment of high impact: Venice canals & lagoon. These habitats are highly dynamic and structured, expected to be reflected by a spatial self-structuring of our mussel population. These sub-populations locally perform memetic or cultural learning algorithms on their specific local data. Thus cultural evolution algorithms will promote sub-culture development, similar to the human society that does the same above the water level in parallel.

Overall, we aim for an artificial society underneath the water-surface to the service of a human society above the water.









subCULTron was kicked off on 26th of May 2015: A group of 14 scientists (see photo)
from Italy, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, and France
was meeting in Pontedera, Italy, for making the first steps to create (again) the largest autonomous underwater swarm!

The project is funded by European Commission under the programme Future and Emerging Technologies, EU-H2020 Project no. 640967, FETPROACT-2-2014: Knowing, doing, being: cognition beyond problem solving