Hanky-Deprived Drones Taste Whale Snot For Science

A whole world of biomass floats in the boogers of a whale’s exhaust, and it’s a biologist’s dream to explore it. Whale snot carries everything from DNA samples to hormone signatures. But getting close enough to a surfacing whale for long enough to actually sample this snot turns out to be a nightmare when done by boat. Researcher [Iain Kerr] and a team from Olin College of Engineering thought, why not use a drone instead? Behold, the Snotbot was born!

Snotbot is essentially a petri-dish-equipped commercial drone that users can pilot into the exhaust of a whale to collect samples before the cetacean dives back under. After 7 missions and over 500 collected samples, Snotbot is putting-to-rest years of frustration from researchers anticipating their next chance for a shot of snot. Along the way, the team have also leveraged it to image the whale’s fluke (a fingerprint equivalent), drop underwater mics, and collect poo samples. As opposed to darts, Snotbot is non-invasive, and the whales don’t seem to mind (or even notice) who’s downstream of their boogers.

Drones are almost ubiquitous at this point in our lives–to the point where they now fall under regulations by the US government. With so many of us building our own drones at home, it’s wonderful to see groups starting to ask the next question: cool drone; now what? With reliable drones at prices that are within reach for the everyday citizen, we’re excited that we will see dozens of applications that leverage this new skyward-bound platform over the coming years. If you can’t wait, have a quick look back in time, where drones are doing maritime deliveries and blowing up debris.

Hack A Day Fail Contest Winner

We had a lot of entries for our Fail contest; there can only be one winner though. We liked [Gordon LaPlante]’s entry pictured above most of all. It’s big, it’s broken, and it’s black and white; that certainly sounds like us. [Gordon] wins $100 worth of No Starch Press merchandise.

There were plenty of other honorable entries. You can view them in the Hack a Day Flickr photo pool. We saw a couple themes emerge during the contest and have highlighted some of them after the break. Continue reading “Hack A Day Fail Contest Winner”

Hack A Day Fail Whale Contest

We’re back! There may be a bit of oddness for the next few days. Our Fail Whale contest is still running and we’ve received over 100 entries so far. Here’s how you can participate:

While we’re adding more hamsters to our server power plant we thought we’d hold a little art contest. Whenever Twitter goes down, they post the iconic Fail Whale. The Fail Whale has become so popular that it has spawned a dedicated blog and many many art projects: embroidery, tattoos, and laser cut models.

We want to see what you think Hack a Day failure looks like. Create an illustration, photo, sculpture, anything that you think embodies Hack a Day failing. Send your entries to hackaday.fail@gmail.com and add them to the Hack a Day photo pool. The prize is $100 for you to spend in the No Starch Press store. Entries are due 00:00PDT Saturday September 6th 2008.

[image: Bjonnh]