March 11, 2010

Deep Sea Robot Lost During Research

A deep-sea robot known as the "Autonomous Benthic Explorer" and made by Massachusetts researchers has been lost off the coast of Chile.

Researchers immediately lost contact with the robot, nicknamed ABE, last Friday after it reached the Pacific Ocean floor, about 2 miles below the surface. 

Scientist are assuming that a glass sphere that helped keep the $1.1 million robot buoyant may have imploded from the water pressure, destroying onboard communications. 

This was the robot's 222nd research dive.

ABE was made at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod and was launched in 1995.

The robot had greater range and technical abilities than human-occupied submersibles or vehicles connected by cables to surface ships. 

ABE was the first autonomous robot to make detailed maps of mid-ocean ridges and locate hydrothermal vents, which is where hot liquid spews from the ocean.


Image Caption: The space-aged looking ABE was one of the first autonomous, robotic vehicles used for deep ocean exploration. (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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