TECH

Sir Patrick Stewart Backs Ocean Alliance 'Snotbot' Drones For Whale Research

28/07/2015 12:03 BST | Updated 17/08/2015 14:59 BST

Sir Patrick Stewart is collecing snot -- whale snot to be more specific.

Well, he's not doing the collecting. He's backing conservation organisation, Ocean Alliance, who have created 'Snotbots' -- snot-collecting drones -- to capture vital biological data to further our research on whales.

snotbot ocean alliance

The organisation has partnered with Olin College of Engineering to build custom-made drones, that will essentially hover over a whale and collect blowhole samples that allows scientists to sequence DNA, measure stress hormone levels as well as detect viruses and bacteria.

To do this, they have launched a Kickstarter campaign that briefly explains why the 'Snotbots' are the best vehicles for whale-related research.

Imagine if everything your doctor knew about your health came from chasing you around the room with a large needle while blowing an air-horn.The chart would say something like, “elevated stress levels, prone to shrieking.” It's inaccurate. This is what we believe is going on with some of the current whale data due to the invasive nature of previous sampling methods, and with Snotbot we mean to correct it with a clearer picture of whales that are undisturbed.

In a video for the campaign that features Sir Stewart, Ocean Alliance say the project would help us better understand this "blue planet we call home."

After several trials, the team have come up with an unmanned aerial vehicle that they think will do the job nicely. It is waterproof and has a "diverse array of on-board sensors" including sponge-like attachments that will help collect the snot.

So far, the campaign has had over 400 backers. It has just under a month left to raise $225,000 (£144,256).