Tweeting drone tells tales of the sea - FOX 13 News

Tweeting drone tells tales of the sea

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Maybe you've seen reports on the drone aircraft being used on battlefields and along the border. But, unmanned drones are also being tested on the water and below the surface.

The U.S. Navy has tested drones that look like conventional patrol boats, but no one is at the helm. They can blare loudspeaker warnings to vessels approaching restricted waters. And, to imagine these vessels armed with remote control guns isn't science fiction.


At Bayboro Harbor in St. Petersburg, another kind of drone swims silently below the surface, operated by researchers from USF.  It's a submersible robot called Tavros, the Greek word for "bull," the USF mascot.

Tavros carries sensors to measure environmental conditions. And, Tavros can "talk" - or most correctly, "tweet", as in  Twitter.

"We've been tweeting from the platform," says chief researcher David Fries, "And people are tweeting back to the machine, essentially to engage in conversation."


The possibility of conversing with robots has fascinated people for years. The robot in the old TV series "Lost In Space" looked like a huge vacuum cleaner with hoses for arms that flailed when danger approached. The deep-voiced robot was the foil to wimpy Dr. Smith and the protector of Will Robinson.

And where would Luke Skywalker have been without R2-D2? They seemed to understand one another just fine.


Fries says drones with amazing artificial intelligence are on their way. He says USF researchers are working with Twitter to increase the conversational abilities of Tavros.

He says submersible robots will provide coastal security and become watchdogs for the environment. How could a talking, swimming robot help you?

"Outfitted with the right electronics it could tell you where the fish are before you leave the dock," says Fries. Someday a helpful drone will be just a Tweet away.

LINK: Follow Tavros on Twitter:

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