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Ocean

Marine

Volkswagen's caged Beetle Convertible swims with the sharks

A convertible shark cage may be a complete oxymoron, but Volkswagen and partners have built one for Discovery Channel's upcoming Shark Week. More than just a stationary exhibit, the shark cage is a functioning watercraft with impressive capabilities. Gizmag talked to Luke Tipple, the marine biologist, shark diving expert and TV personality responsible for building and driving the craft, to find out more about what it's like to scooter around shark-infested waters in a skeletal Beetle ragtop. Read More

Marine

New tech could allow for more eco-friendly barnacle control on boats

Barnacles may look nice and nautical on things like rocks, but they’re a major problem for watercraft of all sorts. On the hulls of ships, for example, they can drastically decrease the vessel’s hydrodynamics, causing it to burn more fuel and emit more emissions in order to maintain its cruising speed. The most common way of keeping barnacles off those hulls involves the use of environmentally-unfriendly paints. Now, however, a scientist from Sweden’s University of Gothenburg has developed what could be a less harmful alternative. Read More

Robotics

Underwater robot seeks out endangered sturgeons

The Atlantic sturgeon, which is one of the world’s oldest species of fish, can live up to 60 years, reaching a length of of 15 feet (4.6 meters) and a weight of over 800 pounds (360 kg). It’s also endangered, due to past overfishing for its caviar. In order to protect the sturgeon that are left, it’s important to keep fishermen from catching them accidentally. That’s why researchers at the University of Delaware and Delaware State University are calling upon satellites, and an underwater robot known as OTIS. Read More

Good Thinking

New system could put dead seaweed to use as a source of power

When it’s alive and in the ocean, seaweed serves as a habitat, spawning ground and food source for marine life. Once it gets washed ashore, however, it pretty much just rots. Typically, along beaches in tourist areas, that dead seaweed is simply gathered and taken to a landfill. Now, however, researchers from Spain’s University of Alicante have conceived of a new seaweed-removal system that has less environmental impact, and that allows the seaweed to be used as an energy source. Read More

Environment

World’s largest OTEC power plant planned for China

Lockheed Martin has been getting its feet wet in the renewable energy game for some time. In the 1970s it helped build the world’s first successful floating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) system that generated net power, and in 2009 it was awarded a contract to develop an OTEC pilot plant in Hawaii. That project has apparently been canceled but the company has now shifted its OTEC sights westward by teaming up with Hong Kong-based Reignwood Group to co-develop a pilot plant that will be built off the coast of southern China.Read More

Marine

Norwegian soda company sets world's largest message in a bottle adrift

Sending messages in bottles has been around since at least the Ancient Greeks, but it's doubtful that anyone back then sent out a bottle quite like this. As part of a promotional campaign, Solo, a soft drink company based in Norway, recently built an 8-meter (26-foot) tall replica soda bottle outfitted with solar panels, a camera, and tracking technology and set it adrift in the ocean.Read More

Robotics

Coral-repairing robots take a step closer to reality

Since humans are responsible for much of the damage to coral reefs, it makes sense that we should try and help repair them. That’s exactly what a team from the Herriot-Watt University’s Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology is attempting to do with the development of underwater “coralbots,” which we covered last year. Now anyone can add their support to this worthy effort with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign that will help make the robots a reality.Read More

Military

DARPA wants to hide naval assets on the sea bottom

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has seen the future of naval warfare and it’s falling upward. As part of an effort to reduce the logistics of sending equipment into trouble areas, the agency’s Upward Falling Payloads project is aimed at developing storage capsules capable of remaining on the deep seabed for years. These would contain non-lethal military assets that could be deployed on the spot years in advance and rise to the surface as needed.Read More

Robotics

First of four autonomous Wave Glider robots successfully crosses Pacific ocean

Last November, a fleet of four small autonomous Wave Glider aquatic robots set out from San Francisco to sail across the Pacific ocean. They reached Hawaii this March, at which point they parted ways – as according to plan, one pair struck out for Japan, while the other two headed for Australia. Today, it was announced that the first of the two Australia-bound Wave Gliders has reached its destination, setting a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle.Read More
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