Underwater robots rarely have the ability to dig themselves into sediment below a body of water,
as might be required for analytical purposes. However, several aquatic animals can do this, in search
of food or to evade predators. This project considers the design of an innovative underwater robot
to dig unaided into the sediment.
One use of this robot is to detect low-level, low-energy, gamma-ray emitting radioactivity present
under the seabed or ocean floor, autonomously. The material to be detected is americium-241 (and
related actinides such as uranium, plutonium), the fission product caesium-137 and potentially
The domain of autonomous robotic devices for digging and drilling on seabed has not been
explored extensively despite having a significant number of devices and designs suggested for robots
which have applications in the domain of sample collection and exploration. Several digging devices
have been reported in the research often inspired by how aquatic animals dig and drill on the
seabed or ocean floor such as clams or worms as well as digging robot for the planting of trees and
adapted screw burying themselves. Planetary expeditions have also been a stimulus for the
development of these types of machines .
Nevertheless, it is inspiring to observe the performance of these designed robots especially when
these robots are fully submerged through their digging process. In this project, the aim is to build an
autonomous robot that can dig itself into the seabed for the purpose of low-level, low-energy
gamma-ray emitting radioactivity characterisation.
 Nagaoka, K., Kubota, T., Otsuki, M., & Tanaka, S. (2008). Experimental study on autonomous
burrowing screw robot for subsurface exploration on the Moon. In 2008 IEEE/RSJ International
Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (pp. 4104–4109). IEEE.