ROV NEWS: WHOI scientists to build hybrid ROV
Posted on 17.12.2003 - 10:01 EST in ROV NEWS by Rons_ROV_Links
Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA ## For the first time since 1960, U.S. scientists will be able to explore the
deepest parts of the world's oceans, up to 7 miles below the surface, with a novel underwater vehicle capable of
performing multiple tasks in extreme conditions.
Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution here are
developing a battery-powered underwater robot to enable scientists to explore the ocean's most remote regions up to
11,000 meters deep.
A spokeswoman said the hybrid HROV will be able to operate in two modes ## as an autonomous or free-swimming vehicle for
wide area surveys, and as a tethered vehicle for close-up sampling and other tasks. In the latter mode, it will use a
novel fiber-optic micro cable only one thirty-second of an inch thick, a significant departure from the large, heavy
cables typically used with tethered vehicles. The deep-sea vehicle will require new technologies such as ceramic
housings for cameras and other electronic equipment to withstand the pressures at the vehicle's extreme operating
depths, she said.
Funding for the four-year, $5-million HROV project is provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation, with additional
support from the U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. Principal investigators are Andrew
Bowen and Dana Yoerger of WHOI's Deep Submergence Laboratory in the Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering Department and
Louis Whitcomb, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University
(Baltimore, Maryland). Whitcomb is also a visiting investigator in DSL. The new vehicle will undergo initial trails in
Humans have been to the bottom of the Mariana Trench only once, in 1960, when the U.S. Navy bathyscaph Trieste descended
with then Lt. Don Walsh and Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard. The Japanese ROV Kaiko dove to the bottom of the trench in
1995. It was lost earlier this year (See Oceansp@ce No. 494, July 7.) and no operational vehicles currently exist that
are capable of reaching this depth.
"The HROV will enable, for the first time, routine scientific research in the deepest parts of the ocean, from 6,500
meters to 11,000 meters, a depth we currently cannot reach," says RAdm. Richard Pittenger, USN, Ret., and WHOI vice
president for marine operations. "It will also afford access to other very hard-to-reach regions such as under the
arctic ice cap. The HROV's real-time, wide-band link to the surface will put the researcher in the loop to view, assess,
and command the vehicle throughout the duration of dive missions. It is the first capable and cost-effective technology
that will enable scientists to pursue research projects on a routine basis in areas they have long wanted to study but
have been unable to reach. HROV technology will help answer many questions about the deep sea."
More at http://www.whoi.edu/home/.
OceanSp@ce No. 515, DECEMBER 15, 2003