Meet Echo: A Robot That’s Friends with Emperor Penguins

Written by Techjuice Team ·  1 min read >
Echo Robot
Small and Yellow, Echo currently lives with a colony of emperor penguins and is studying the impact of global warming on the species

Recent images showing emperor penguins seemingly hanging out with a robot car have taken over the internet, but what exactly is this and what is a robot doing between penguins? Well, this is ‘Echo’, a robot that’s deployed in Antarctica for a study on climate change and its effects on the animals of Antarctica.

Working on a project of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Echo is living with penguins to find out how global warming has impacted the lives of penguins living in the south pole.

The Echo is mobile, autonomous, and works with the help of an antenna. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution while studying emperor penguins using ‘Echo’, applies a very simple and traditional method and that is the ‘marks recapture’.

Physicist Daniel Zitterbart while talking about the method said that in this method, they mark an animal and then try to resight it later. This helps keep a count and identify effects on each individual penguin.

However, identifying emperor penguins is certainly difficult, since visually they are all the same. This is where the Echo’s antenna comes into play, it allows the robot to completely scan a particular penguin making it easier for scientists to mark thousands of penguins spanning over a very large area.

Using Echo, these scientists are creating a baseline for multiple data sets such as the average penguin’s age and the average penguin’s travels, etc. With the correct baseline and data, scientists can instantly identify any negative changes in the species and also take the required steps to protect them.

According to Zitterbart, these species have survived tough situations for thousands of years and they are very adaptable to their surroundings. In case of a negative change, we can expect the penguins to be more adaptable however there is a certain limit to adaptability.

When talking about the future of emperor penguins, Zitterbart seemed very optimistic and said that “I’m hopeful for the emperor penguins, these species, they will find another niche. Even if the niche helps them a couple of more hundred years, until we can slow things down to a level where they can adapt”. “To more nature has always shown to be resilient” he added.

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