Sunday, December 20, 2009

Unmanned submersible crosses Atlantic

Washington Post reports:

An aquatic glider called the Scarlet Knight, a 7-foot-9-inch submersible device, shaped like a large-winged torpedo, had just become the first robot to cross an ocean.

Scarlet's recovery on Dec. 4 ended a trip that began April 27 off the coast of New Jersey. For those seven months she was directed by computer, modem, satellite and GPS device from a control room on the Rutgers campus and, one time, from Palmer Research Station in Antarctica. Most of the time, however, the glider was out of contact underwater, moving slowly up and down to depths of 600 feet, safe from ships, nets and storms.

I have often wondered about the feasibility of unmanned, undersea vehicles (UUVs). Although slow, they could move cargo easily. Surveillance missions could be conducted, just like the science mission described in the article. For the military, you could send a swarm of UUVs towards a target, confident that several would reach their target regardless of a robust enemy defense.

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