Friday, March 20, 2009

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming . . . .

It's not often that I get to blog about oceanographic or marine science issues these days, but thanks to the London Telegraph, today I can.

Yes, folks, that's a real, carp shaped robotic fish. The latest pollution sniffing device is a great example of what we in the ocean fields call an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle or AUV. These devices generally look like torpedos or flying saucers, and the technology has been in rapid transition for several years now.

Basically, AUV's - even shaped like robotic fish - are an iteration on manned oceanic exploration submarines (like Alvin). The carry complex sensors to detect all sorts of chemical, temperature, and ecological data. Some are wave or pressure differential powered, but most have internal batteries (as do our irridescent carp). They are launched from boats, shore, and docks; perform all sorts of missions, and then either transmit their data from their locations to a shore station, or swim back to shore so we can download and recharge them.

Will AUVs ever completely replace oceanographic survey vessels? No. They may gain longer battery life, they may gain many more specialized sensors, btu they will always be acompliment to our modern survey vessel fleet.

So, the next time you go deep sea fishing, be on the look out for these carp. And if you catch one, please practice Catch and Release.

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