On rough seas, the stability of ships can be a matter of life and death. If a ship loses balance, then it could shrink, which would effect the life of all the people who are on the ship. To prevent these ships from upsetting, a new ship-stabilizing mechanism called ‘Gyroscope’ is now applied to many ships.
It’s actually hard to call this technology a “brand new tech.” because it was already invented in 1850s by a Frenchman Leon Foucault. A gyroscope is a spinning wheel, called the rotor, that rotates around an axis. The rotor is mounted between two gimbals that turns around their own axes. This means that when pressure is exerted on the gimbals, the rotor is unaffected, making it a useful tool to measure compass headings and pitch, roll, or yaw angles—useful for sailors trying to find the horizon on a foggy morning, or in a spacecraft which headed to the ISS.
Other than ship-stabilizing and guiding, gyroscope is used in many important tools like the Hubble Space Telescope, race cars, airplanes, and cell phones. Pokemon Go’s augmented reality also uses gyroscope.
In a boat, the natural rocking of the water moves the spinning gyroscope, producing pressure known as ‘torc.’ As the boat rolls, the gyro tilts fore and aft. This motion comes from the stabilizers which use the energy produced by pushing the spinning gyroscope off its vertical axis to correct the boat’s heel. It’s basically the same principle with a surfer adjusting his body’s position on his board to match a wave’s surface
The problem, though, is that until recently, gyroscopic stabilizers were too heavy and big that it weighted about 100 tons because their power depended on their size and mass. Huge space was needed to take stabilizer, so only huge ships could apply it. However, In 1970s new kind of stabilizer called ‘fin stabilizer’ was invented for the small ships. It looked like fins, and they moved up and down like wing airplane so that it can push the water and stabilize the ship. But fins, though effective, required a lot of power, and changed the direction of the ship a bit.
Researchers are still working on scaling the stabilizer down so that every boats in every sizes can use it. Researchers revealed their next goal that is to make a stabilizer for 20-foot boats. While the early adapters might be luxury ships, the company is seeing an uptick in commercial adoption too.
Widespread usage of stabilizers, Semprevivo hopes, will help improve safety conditions on the sea. “We have an opportunity,” Semprevivo says, “to see what our product can do.”