A hybrid remotely operated vehicle developed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) took the first known automated sample performed by a robotic arm in the ocean.
A hybrid remotely operated vehicle developed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) took the first known automated sample performed by a robotic arm in the ocean. Last month, an international team of researchers used one of WHOI’s underwater robots, Nereid Under Ice (NUI), to explore Kolumbo volcano, an active submarine volcano off Greece’s famed Santorini island.
“For a vehicle to take a sample without a pilot driving it was a huge step forward,” says Rich Camilli, an associate scientist at WHOI leading the development of automation technology as part of NASA’s Planetary Science and Technology from Analog Research (PSTAR) interdisciplinary research program. “One of our goals was to toss out the joystick, and we were able to do just that.”
As with self-driving cars, handing the wheel over to a computer algorithm can be unsettling. The same goes for ocean robots, especially when they need to work in tricky and hazardous environments. Camilli was part of an international team of researchers on an expedition aimed at learning about life in the harsh, chemical-laden environment of Kolumbo, and also exploring the extent to which scientists can hand over the controls to ocean robots and allow them to explore without human intervention.
Read more at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Photo: NUI is lowered into the Aegean Sea before plunging to a depth of 500 meters to explore Kolumbo volcano. (Photo by Evan Lubofsky, © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)