Highlights from Interbike 2014

Ocean

A group of four autonomous underwater vehicles have just set a world distance record, by t...

On November 17th of last year, a group of four wave-powered autonomous aquatic robots set out from San Francisco, embarking on a planned 37,000-mile (60,000-km) trip across the Pacific ocean. Recently, the fleet of Wave Gliders completed the first leg of their journey, arriving at Hawaii’s Big Island after traveling over 3,200 nautical miles (5,926 km). By doing so, they have set a new distance record for unmanned wave-powered vehicles – that record previously sat at 2,500 nautical miles (4,630 km).  Read More

The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER with one of its utility booms deployed (Photo: National Geographic/...

Well-known film director and deep-sea explorer James Cameron is no stranger to setting records, but this time, instead of box office gross, he's setting his sights on something more akin to a single-handed lunar landing - a solo trip to the ocean's deepest point, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench off Guam. Billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is hard on Cameron's heels but it appears almost certain the genius behind the blockbusters Titanic and Avatar will be the first to get there alone - he just snagged the record for deepest solo dive off Papua New Guinea on March 6th with a depth of 26,791′ (8.2km).  Read More

A new algorithmic system allows AUVs to reach their destinations faster, or to use less po...

Autonomous underwater vehicles, better known as AUVs, are increasingly finding use in applications such as oceanographic research, mapping, military reconnaissance, and deep-sea oil-well maintenance. As these independent underwater robots make their way through the world’s oceans, they use GPS transceivers to keep themselves on a predetermined route. When they encounter challenges such as cross-currents, one might assume that their best course of action would be simply to power straight across them, in order to travel the shortest distance possible. Engineers from MIT, however, have developed a system that allows AUVs to reach their destinations sooner, by traveling out of their way to “go with the flow.”  Read More

When the Restube inflates, the user holds onto it to keep afloat

Most anyone that can swim can handle a float across the pool without significant risk of drowning, but being out on a large, open body of water like the ocean or a lake brings dangers to even the surest swimmer. While a personal flotation device (PFD) is a simple solution that will keep you afloat, it can be restricting and cumbersome to wear, making it uncomfortable for athletic activities like surfing or kiteboarding. The Restube gives you some of the life-saving power of a traditional flotation device without the unwanted bulk and discomfort.  Read More

EM Observe is an electronic system, that remotely monitors fishing vessels' catches

In an effort to save the world's oceans from overfishing, many countries now require commercial fishing vessels to bring along an observer, who checks that the crew aren't exceeding their catch limits. That observer takes up cabin space on the boat, however, plus they require a salary, and probably aren't made to feel particularly welcome by the crew members. This month, however, a Spanish purse seiner became the world's first tropical tuna-fishing vessel to try out something different - an electronic monitoring system. Designed by Archipelago Marine Research, the EM Observe system is already in regular use in the company's home province of British Columbia, Canada.  Read More

Mars Express has used its MARSIS radar to give strong evidence for a former ocean of Mars ...

The European Space Agency (ESA) has provided more evidence that suggests the surface of Mars was once home to an ocean. Featuring ground-penetrating radar capabilities, the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding) radar aboard the ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft has detected sediments like that seen on an ocean floor.  Read More

The proposed WindFlip system would use barges that sink stern-first into the ocean, for tr...

While large offshore turbines can be very effective at harnessing the power of the wind, they do pose at least one challenge – how do you get them out into the ocean? One option is to bring them to their deployment site on board a ship, partially assembled, then put them together on location. Doing that kind of work on the pitching deck of a ship can be challenging, however, and requires crews to stay out at sea longer. Another option involves towing them from shore in their final, vertical orientation, but this requires an uninterrupted channel of deep water, and limits the speed at which they can be transported. Now, Norwegian company WindFlip is developing an alternative method that can accommodate shallow water, while allowing for relatively high transport speeds and a minimum amount of time spent putting the turbines in place.  Read More

The FourPro is a salt-tolerant underwater housing for the iPhone 4 and 4S, which allows th...

If nothing else, the iPhone 4’s ability to shoot 1080p high-def video has certainly done one thing – provided inventors with things to make. There is currently what could almost be described as a gold rush, as products are being designed to augment the smartphone’s camera, to the point that it could be used for all of the same things as traditional, stand-alone video cameras. Some of these innovations have included interchangeable lenses, a mini SteadiCam, and a rugged helmet-mount system. Now, an underwater housing system for the iPhone 4 and 4S is in the works, which will allow users to shoot undersea video at depths of up to 100 feet (30.5 meters).  Read More

bioWAVE is a wave power system, inspired by the swaying motions of kelp plants

Anyone who has ever been scuba diving in a bull kelp forest will tell you - the stuff does not stand still. The marine aquatic plant consists of a long skinny-but-tough stem (or stipe) that is anchored to the sea floor and topped with a hollow float, from which a number of "leaves" (or blades) extend to the surface. The result is a seaweed that extends vertically up through the water column, continuously swaying back and forth with the surging waves. The researchers at Australia's BioPower Systems evidently looked at that kelp, and thought, "what if we could use that swaying action to generate power?" The result was their envisioned bioWAVE system, which could soon become a reality, thanks to a just-announced AUD$5 million (US$5.1 million) grant from the Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources.  Read More

Architectural firm Dutch Docklands has developed, designed and engineered a master plan fo...

The troubled World Project in Dubai, which has been riddled with problems since the global financial crisis in 2009 including rumors that the islands are sinking, may have found salvation. Architectural firm Dutch Docklands has developed, designed and engineered a master plan for 89 floating islands, giving current World investors the opportunity to purchase a floating paradise. The solution would provide investors with an option that's more feasible and cost-effective than building on the existing land masses, whilst also incorporating several environmental benefits.  Read More

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