problem. You also don’t have a communication
system with a high bandwidth.”
;e team created a navigation system that
deploys simultaneous localization and mapping
algorithms used in robotics, as well as an emer-
gency communications system. “If the vehicle has
to come to the surface and we don’t know where
it is, we can recover it by satellite,” Dr. Rauschen-
Like the IODP drilling team, the DEDAVE team
met unexpected challenges in the deep seas. “In
the water, the vehicle has a good cooling environment for its electronics so there are no problems
with heating. But if it’s on the ship with a lot of
sunshine, its electronic components can overheat,”
Dr. Rauschenbach says.
In response, the team slightly enlarged the cooling system. It was a fairly simple solution, but
without a testing phase that simulates user conditions, the team wouldn’t have encountered the
problem or found a solution. —Novid Parsi
The ocean is full of surprises—
and project teams are determined to find them by refining
their underwater tools and
Problem: Autonomous under-
water vehicles have to return
to a ship to recharge, adding to
Solution: The Boeing Co.’s 51-
foot (16-meter) Echo Voyager
vessel boasts a hybrid rechargeable power system that uses a
diesel generator to charge its
Problem: Underwater robots’
clunky hands can’t handle
delicate work like collecting
samples of marine life.
Solution: A research team from
the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA,
has designed two types of soft
robotic grippers: the first inspired
by the coiling action of boa constrictors, the second using opposing pairs of bendable motors.
Problem: Scientists want to
understand how the seafloor
is changing—but don’t know
what it currently looks like.
Solution: Sponsored by the U.S.
Geological Survey, a project to
map the seafloor along California’s coastline uses a wide range
of data—sonar, acoustic, seismic,
photos and videos—to produce
some of the most detailed underwater maps ever seen.
The International Ocean
Discovery Program’s drill ship