There is an underwater vehicle flavour to Jeremy Cresswell's look at what's fresh on the hydrographic front, notably a new type of hybrid robot vehicle for deepsea survey and a semi-submersible vehicle designed to replace small survey monohulls. The robotic vehicle Nereus, developed at the US's famous Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) is capable of operating both as a tethered remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and as an autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV).
It looks like a cross between an ROV and a catamaran and has just been on a voyage to the bottom of Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean. The dive to 10 902m took place on 31st May and makes Nereus the world's deepest-diving vehicle and the first to explore the Mariana Trench since 1998.
According to Wood's Hole, the hybrid ROV/AUV format makes this machine ideal for exploring and surveying the ocean's last frontiers.
"With a robot like Nereus we can now explore virtually anywhere in the ocean," said Andy Bowen, the project manager and principal developer of Nereus at WHOI, following the historic dive.
"The trenches are virtually unexplored, and I am absolutely certain Nereus will enable new discoveries. I believe it marks the start of a new era in ocean exploration."
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