ROVworld Subsea Information

Autonomous research bots go for a swim
Date: Friday, June 25, 2010 @ 09:00:00 EDT

Autonomous research bots go for a swimAs more robots find near-permanent homes on land and in space, they are also starting to settle in for long-term living in the ocean. SOLO-TREC, the latest breed of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), features an engine that produces renewable energy from water temperature fluctuations, allowing it to spend more time in the water.

The new technology, developed by scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC-San Diego, offers a major improvement in powering AUVs. Most of these robots can hold a greater charge than SOLO-TREC (which stands for Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangrian Observer Thermal RECharging), but they need to be plugged in on a boat or docking station. NASA scientist and SOLO-TREC principal investigator Yi Chao explains that by giving AUVs a "plug in the water," researchers can let their bots collect more data without having to retrieve them frequently.

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