You wouldn't want to meet one of these robot snakes underwater

Sea snake
A robotic sea snake in action.

Robots might be coming to steal our jobs but there are actually lots of jobs they're welcome to - such as inspecting and cleaning underwater infrastructure. Of course, they never need to come up for air, and don't want any pay either.

A collaboration between Norwegian companies Kongsberg Maritime and Statoil, as well as the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, these slithering eel-like contraptions are designed to replace bulky vessels and equipment.

Not only will the deep-sea snake cut down on costs and improve efficiency, it can also get into tight spots that other robots (or humans) can't reach. The plan is for these bots to actually live on the seabed until they're needed.

The robots you see in the video above are actually the result of 10 years of development by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (or NTNU, Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, to give it its proper name).

Under the sea

Visual inspection, cleaning, and adjusting valves and chokes are listed as the primary tasks that these swimming robots are going to be asked to carry out. The organisations behind the invention have just pledged more funding to turn them from lab curiosities to real commercial products.

"It is a new tool that will enable operators to realise large scale cost savings by introducing new ways of conducting routine tasks and helping prevent unscheduled shutdowns by reacting instantly when required," enthused Kongsberg Maritime's Bjørn Jalving.

Underwater robots

The robots can be used with or without thrusters but the scientists who have developed them haven't revealed too much about the hardware design. They do appear to be powered via a cable attachment, which might limit their range.

If you do happen to come across one on a diving expedition in the future, try not to panic - it's probably just there to fix a broken pipe.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.