First sea trials of a revolutionary new undersea robot

phys.org | 5/17/2019 | Staff
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In late June researchers from MBARI joined engineers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to test a new breed of undersea robot designed to open up new avenues of research in the mesopelagic, also known as the ocean's twilight zone. This vehicle, the Mesobot, originated at WHOI and was developed over the past two years with critical input from scientists and engineers at MBARI, Stanford University, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Mesobot is specifically designed to track and study swimming and drifting animals as much as 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) below the surface for up to 24 hours at a stretch.

The Mesobot will extend and amplify previous midwater work by MBARI and other institutions. For decades, MBARI researchers led by Bruce Robison and Steve Haddock and others have used remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to study such midwater animals. Though seldom seen, these creatures help support major fisheries such as tuna and swordfish, provide food for other large animals such as sharks and whales, and help regulate Earth's climate by moving carbon from the surface to deep waters.

Project - National - Science - Foundation - WHOI

The project is being funded by the National Science Foundation, WHOI, MBARI, and the Audacious Project housed at TED.

The multi-institution team designed the Mesobot to be less disruptive to deep-sea animals than most ROVs, equipping it with low-light 4K cameras, red lights that are less visible to animals in the mesopelagic, and large, slow-turning propellers that minimize disturbances in the water. Cutting-edge computer software also allows the vehicle to track animals or objects underwater for up to 24 hours at a time as they move through their daily vertical migration.

Mesobot - Hybrid - ROV - Tether - Surface

The Mesobot is a hybrid between an ROV, which is powered and controlled using a tether attached to a surface ship, and an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), which is programmed at the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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