Nereus in Photos

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WHOI mechanical shop member Geoffrey Ekblaw welds part of the frame of Nereus. The HROV is a single vehicle that will perform two very different kinds of missions: it will swim freely as an autonomous vehicle for survey work, and it will be tethered to a ship for direct control when researchers want to collect seafloor samples. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inistitution)
WHOI engineer Rod Catanach shows off foam used to keep several deep sea vehicles buoyant, including Alvin and Nereus. It's a durable, light-weight material; engineers use syntactic foam, a matrix of billions of microscopic hollow glass spheres embedded in a hard epoxy resin. The resulting product is hard enough to resist crushing under extreme pressure, yet it is lighter than water and thus provides buoyancy to lift a 36,000-pound undersea vehicle, said Catanach, a WHOI engineer overseeing the foam’s development. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
WHOI research engineer Matt Heintz demonstrates the manipulator arm of Nereus. The arm is picking up a "push corer" designed to take sediment samples from the ocean floor. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Machinist Dave Hamblin inspects the polypropylene racks he made for Nereus. The racks will hold ceramic spheres that will help give the vehicle buoyancy. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Research associate Terry Hammar of WHOI's Advanced Engineering Laboratory examines an LED lighting system being developed for several autonomous underwater vehicles, including Nereus. LEDs offer significant advantages over traditional lighting systems for AUVs because they can be turned on and offquickly, and thus can be synchronized with video cameras. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Chris Griner (left) and Glenn McDonald use a special epoxy to glue together sections of ceramic tubing, or "housings," that will be used on Nereus. These pressure vessels provide safe shelter (with pressures at a surface-like one atmosphere) for the batteries and electronics that will run the vehicle. Titanium endcaps allow wires into and out of the vessels. "Ceramics, like your coffee cup, are brittle in nature and have only a fair tensile strength, *but they have a huge compressive strength,*" said McDonald. The ceramics on Nereus can resist the pressure of deep water (as much as 18,000 pounds per square inch). "This ceramics pressure vessel can have a thin wall and actually provide flotation, whereas a titanium vessel built for this depth would have a thick wall and not provide any flotation." (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
WHOI research engineer Matt Heintz shows visiting students how to operate the manipulator arm that will allow Nereus to conduct experiments and take samples on the seafloor. The students submitted the winner in a contest to name the new robotic vehicle being built at WHOI. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
On the dock at Sand Island in Hawaii, Nereus is loaded into its shipping container for travel back to Woods Hole after several days of testing. Underwater vehicles like Nereus are shipped in pieces in large containers (or "vans") to keep all of the parts and accessories in one place; to keep equipment out of the elements; and to protect them from shipping damage, vandalism, and loss. Once a vehicle arrives at its destination, it takes several days to assemble the equipment and test it. "It is sort of a jigsaw puzzle to get everything to fit into the van," said WHOI research engineer Bob Elder. "The same stuff goes in that came out, but somehow, it never seems to fit as well as it did when it was first loaded." (Photo by Robert Elder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
After four years of design and construction, Nereus, took its first plunge in deeper waters during a test cruise in December 2007 off the Waianae coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Nereus can operate as an autonomous, free-swimming vehicle to fly on pre-programmed missions over wide areas, mapping the seafloor, gathering data on the oceans, and searching for specific research targets. But then engineers can convert it within a few hours into a tethered vehicle connected via a hair-thin, 25-mile long cable, which enables scientists on the surface ship to receive real-time video images and send instant commands to maneuver the vehicle and its mechanical arm for close-up investigations and sample gathering. (Photo by Robert Elder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
WHOI technicians Casey Machado and Bob McCabe prepare Nereus for deployment with its tool sled during a test cruise off Hawaii in November 2007.  Use of the tool sled allows gathering samples or doing work in very deep water. McCabe (right) is adjusting a video camera that allows shipboard operators to view the vehicle's work area while it is on the seafloor, while Machado plugs in some connectors. (Photo by Robert Elder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Nereus is raised onto the research vessel Kilo Moana after testing in the waters off Hawaii. The new vehicle—which pushes the limits of fiber optics and ceramic pressure housings—is designed to reach the absolute deepest parts of the ocean, which no vehicle in the world can currently reach. (Photo by Robert Elder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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