Oil Spill Monitoring by Spilled Oil Tracking Autonomous Buoy (SOTAB 1)

by OldSailor on August 6, 2008


Oil spills at sea are on the rise. The oil spill spreads depending on wind direction and sea currents. As oil spill is a threat to marine environment, it is necessary to track the movement of oil spills to take remedial actions. So far oil spills are monitored effectively by aerial survey using aircrafts and satellites. Here is another way of tracking oil spills on real time by Spilled Oil Tracking Autonomous Buoy 1 (SOTAB 1) under development in Japan.

Here are some interesting features of SOTAB 1:

  • designed by Naomi Kato, professor of submersible robotic engineering in the Department of Naval Architecture at Osaka University, Japan.
  • weighs around 110 kilogram.
  • Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled robot.
  • has height of 2.72 metres and diameter of 27 centimetres.
  • SOTAB 1 has sensors to spot floating globs of oil and viscosity of oil.
  • in addition it has got sensors to detect depth, water temperature, wind speed and direction.
  • while floating in water, it can vary its buoyancy to dive underwater up to 10 metres and it can steer with its four fins to track oil spills.
  • it can also take water samples to determine the quantity of oil.
  • while tracking oil spills it can send real-time data about its location, meteorological and oceanographic data around.
  • now efforts are being made to reduce the weight of SOTAB 1 below 30 kilograms and to increase the battery life to 3-4 weeks.
  • SOTAB 1 project was started in 2006.

It is being planned to supply adequate number of SOTABs to oil tankers so that in case of oil spill, the tankers can drop these SOTABs over oil spills. There after continuous monitoring of oil spills can be done by SOTAB. Also these SOTABs can be air dropped over oil spills to keep continuous track.

Here is a photograph of SOTAB 1 from Primidi.


Here is a sketch showing the concept of Spilled Oil Chasing Autonomous Buoy System from Osaka University.


For more information read Japan Today.

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