Thanks to Alvin, scientists were able to study the effects of pressure on seafloor microbes and discovered hydrothermal vents that help regulate ocean chemistry and support ecosystems.
Recently, there has been a push in the oceanographic community to replace hard-wired, fiber-optic communication tethers connected to instruments with wireless, through-water communications. Think Wi-Fi for the ocean.
The team led by WHOI computer scientist Yogesh Girdhar aims to build a robot capable of navigating a reef ecosystem and measuring the biomass, biodiversity, and behavior of organisms living in or passing through a reef over extended periods of time.
Special equipment is required to visit these extreme depths, which is why less than 5% of this area has been explored and charted.
A high-tech SharkCam invented by a Cape Cod researcher offers an unprecedented window into the lives of the ocean’s toothy predators, and can also extend to seals, whales, turtles and squid for a big-picture view of precious ecosystems and how to protect them. “These vehicles, these underwater robots that look like highly complex systems are just an extension of yourself to be able go where people can’t go, and there’s no limitation to what they can do,” said Amy Kukulya, research engineer and principal investigator at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The Mesobot was conceived to complement the work done by existing underwater robots and related systems, filling important gaps that conventional underwater robots have not been able to fill.
Bioluminescent creatures and others inhabiting the dark depths 3,000 feet below the surface in the mid-ocean “twilight zone” — beyond the reach of sunlight — are now being documented by a research robot called Mesobot. The underwater robot was created in a joint effort by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and Stanford University.
The deep-sea submersible Alvin has brought explorers to extraordinary places for more than 50 years. Now, as Alvin is poised to continue its revolutionary scientific work, a new set of upgrades will take it deeper than ever before. A coproduction with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The difficulty of science at sea has been one driving factor in the development of autonomous platforms for use in scientific research.
Mesobot looks like a giant yellow-and-black AirPods case, only it’s rather more waterproof and weighs 550 pounds. It can operate with a fiber-optic tether attached to a research vessel at the surface, or it can swim around freely.
A NASA mission called Europa Clipper may, if funding and development timelines hold, launch in 2024 to do an orbital survey with the latest instruments and potentially, to pick some landing spots for a future spacecraft. And unlike the rovers we are used to on Mars, this futuristic robot is going to have to swim.
Weighing about 550 pounds, the six-foot-long Orpheus drone cost nearly $2 million to build and was named for the Greek poet and prophet. The main goal for this next-generation mini-submarine that was engineered and constructed by WHOI in Massachusetts, will be to increase our knowledge of the deepest areas of our planet’s oceans known as the hadal zone.
To successfully navigate throughout the Arctic requires understanding how these changes in sound propagation affect a vehicle’s ability to communicate and navigate.
A team of MIT engineers has developed a navigational method for autonomous vehicles to navigate accurately in the Arctic Ocean without GPS.
Long-range autonomous underwater vehicles are being engineered to help with natural disaster response.
New England winters can often feel as cold as the Arctic. But for researchers from WHOI’s Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering department, Vermont’s polar-like cold proved to be the perfect testing site for Remus 600. The state’s deepest lake – Lake Willoughby – offered fewer risks than the Arctic Ocean, while providing important data about ice measurement and water temperature, helping to streamline the real mission this fall.
Submarines can descend thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean, but to do so, they have to deal with an enormous amount of pressure. NPR caught up with WHOI’s Bruce Strickrott, Group Manager and Chief Pilot of the Deep Submergence Vehicle Alvin, who explains some of the fundamental engineering principles that allow submarines to dive so deep without imploding under the pressure, and shares updates on Alvin’s overhaul and future dives.
Human Occupied Vehicle (HOV) Alvin is part of the National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF). Alvin is one of the most recognized deep submergence vessels in the world and the only one in the U.S. capable of carrying humans into extreme ocean depths. The sub has completed 5,065 successful dives, more than all other submersible programs worldwide combined. When Alvin relaunches next fall, the iconic sub will have the ability to dive to 6500 meters (21,325 feet)—almost 4 miles deep and 2,000 meters deeper than Alvin’s current maximum depth of 4500 meters (14,800 feet). The upgrade will also give the sub access to 99% of the ocean floor.
Soule talks to Physics World’s James Dacey about doing science in the Alvin submersible vehicle, which is currently be refurbished to allow it to reach the astonishing depth of 6.5 km.
Alvin has been ashore getting a major upgrade at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, which operates the submersible on behalf of the US Navy. By the time Alvin’s makeover is wrapped up in late 2021, the storied submarine will rank among the most capable human-rated deep sea submersibles in the world.
Drawing on 90 years of leadership in ocean discovery and exploration, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists are engaged in an array of research projects using autonomous systems to advance their understanding of marine environments.
Increased depth range and the ability to explore 99% of the ocean floor, including the abyssal region—one of the least understood areas of the deep sea—are just some of the upgrades underway for the iconic human-occupied Vehicle (HOV) Alvin that were unveiled today at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Fall Meeting 2020.
The game-changing technologies that will transform our ability to understand and manage Earth’s last great frontier. Monitoring instruments—and ocean technologies in general—have come a long way. We now have Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled robots that not only allow researchers to access the most remote spots in the ocean, but can decide where to explore once they get there.
A scientist involved in the discovery of the Titanic happened to be on board, so he helped them program the robots on where to go and how to search for the barrels. A marine geochemistry lab at WHOI ran the samples.