The tension was great, when the new deep sea robot of the Leibniz Institute for Sea Sciences (IFM GEOMAR) disappeared in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Chief pilot Dr. Thomas Kuhn and Professor Dr. Colin Devey got damp hands despite large experience with such major items of equipment with navigating with the joystick. "Even if all systems function perfectly, a deep sea test nevertheless is a genuine test", says Colin Devey.
After nearly two years of development the remote controlled deep sea robot KIEL 6000 of the Kieler of Leibniz Institute Sea Sciences (IFM GEOMAR) made its virgin dive. Despite a rough see could coworkers of IFM GEOMAR and the manufacturing firm Schilling Robotics launch the so-called ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) on its first dive into the depth of the Pacific. From the research ship SONNE the robot was lowered into the caldera of the active volcano "Brothers" approx. 180 nautical miles before the East coast of New Zealand. At a depth 1850 m the first system checks were accomplished without technical problems and afterwards a part of the internal caldera wall was recorded by video. Lava rivers at the bottom of the sea as well as signs of geysers gave clear referring to the continuous activity of the volcano. The dive took 8 hours.
"The ROV can also be easily navigated under the most difficult conditions", tells Dr. Thomas Kuhn enthusiastically. "With the help of its sonar the robot can be maneuvered also at almost vertical slopes centimeter-exactly", continues Kuhnr. For the observation and documentation thereby both High Definition (HDTV) and standard TV cameras are used. The highly dissolving sonar spots objects up to 400 m distance, still from 30 m distance recognizes it objects in football size. "These instruments provide us an excellent mapping of the area", explains Dr. Kuhn.
In the next days further dive tests are planned, so the other instruments of the ROV can be tested. In particular the hydraulically grab arms as well as testing of the laser survey system will be done.
The first research deployment of the ROV is then in October at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is planned in October.
The equipment could be purchased thanks of a special promotion of the country Schleswig-Holstein. It serves also as important ocean tracking system for the program Ocean of the Future, a common initiative of the Christian Albrechts university of Kiel, Leibniz-Institut for Sea Sciences, Institut for World Economy and the Muthesius Academy of Art.