There are a host of technical problems that this project faces, but it's at least interesting to read about applying swarm intelligence to power generation.

The "marine energy" industry has come up with a number of ideas to make use of the movement of water around the globe, be it from ocean waves, tides slipping into and out of inlets, or regular ocean currents like the Gulf Stream.

The more common solution to the problem has been to build large turbines, to be anchored to the seabed.

But the nature of the Gulf Stream presents different challenges, said Professor White.

"Even though the Gulf Stream is constrained between two bodies of land, the flow rate and location of peak velocity will change, based on seasonal and weather conditions."

The solution, Professor White and his team suggest, are autonomous turbines with so-called "swarm intelligence" that can navigate through the ocean currents, similar to a school of fish searching for food.

"Swarm intelligence can achieve two goals. One is to find the 'sweet spot' of the Gulf Stream, which is the location where the array will achieve maximum power output," he said.

"The other goal is to find the array orientation and alignment that provides optimal efficiency."


1. How do swarm members communicate underwater?

2. How do mobile turbines hundreds of meters under the middle of the ocean transmit the power they generate to consumers?

(HT: MG.)

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