100 New Species Found by Robot

Robotics has good reason to be grateful for biology, but now biology has to be grateful to robots, too. Schmidt Ocean Institute set out on an undersea expedition with an underwater robot and found about 100 new species. Traveling along the Salas y Gómez Ridge stretching between Chile and Easter Island, researchers used a remote-control robot to track down numerous new specimens.

SuBastian, a remote operated vehicle, can go 2.8 miles underwater. It’s tethered to the Falkor, the Institute’s research vessel, for electricity and communications, including speed-of-light fiber optics. The ROV and the Falkor are connected by a cable, called an umbilical.


Unlike Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, SuBastion is piloted by human beings. It’s a remotely operated robot, with sensors designed to make it versatile and powerful. SuBastian has multiple video cameras not only for pilot communication, but also for collecting data. With no need for human passengers, it can stay underwater for long periods of fit — not just the five hours a manned sub can accomplish.

The researchers point out that use of a ROV is safer than a manned underwater vehicle. As in so many other cases, robots make it possible to keep human workers safe while they do their important jo

It does seafloor mapping and collects specimens, which makes it perfect for finding and identifying underwater species.

The researchers expect to spend years discovering the details about the new species. They are excited about the sponges, sea urchins, and lobsters which have never been seen before.

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