A jack-o’-lantern is a carved pumpkin or turnip lantern. The custom of making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween began in Ireland and Britain, in 19th century. In Celtic-speaking regions, Halloween was also the festival of Samhain, a time when supernatural beings and the souls of the dead roamed the earth. Jack-o-lanterns were a way of protecting one’s home against the undead.
Today we still need lanterns to illuminate the invisible unknown. Our futuristic jack-o’-lanterns are sensors and cameras mounted on drones that can fly up in the sky or dive into deep waters. And by the way, they are not so different from their jack-o’-lantern ancestor.
If you don’t believe it, have a look at EVE–the Ellipsoidal Vehicle for Exploration–a sensor-studded yellow robot the shape of a pumpkin. Her creator, Sampriti Bhattacharyya, a MIT phD student, wants to build Google Maps for the ocean. The planet’s surface is more than 70 per cent water, yet only 5% of the world’s oceans have been explored. And “We do not yet have a very cheap, scalable, easily deployable method of scanning large areas of the ocean,”
EVE is autonomous drone which can work with multiple other Eve drones, making it feasible to use swarms of them to search large areas and collect data:
Such a network of autonomous drones could be used for disaster response, coral reef monitoring, surveillance for port security and finding places to drill for oil and gas. Bhattacharyya says EVE would have been useful for monitoring pollution from the BP oil spill.
Its elliptical frame can be fitted with the right sensors for its mission, such as environmental sensors to monitor pH changes. A swarm of them could be used to look for missing aircraft by fitting the robots with acoustic sensors to listen for pings from a downed jet’s black box.
Well, if you still don’t see the parallel, you can at least enjoy the sound track of this cute video clip.
Featured Image: Jack-o’-lantern