The murky details of DARPA's sub-hunting drone project are a bit clearer, thanks to a new concept video published by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). DARPA is spending US$58 million to have SAIC build the first Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vehicle
(ACTUV), which will detect and track a growing number of stealthy, inexpensive diesel-electric subs.
Ever wonder how fish can find their way around so easily in murky water? Well, most of them use something called their lateral line – a row of hair cells down either side of their body that detect changes in water pressure caused by movement, or by water flowing around objects. Now, scientists from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and MIT have copied the lateral lines of the blind cave fish, in a man-made system designed to allow autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to navigate more accurately and efficiently.
Dutch submarine manufacturer U-Boat Worx has been developing it over the past two years
, but this September at the 22nd Monaco Yacht Show, it was finally launched – the C-Explorer 5, which the company describes as “the world’s first subsea limousine.”
“People will protect what they love, and they love what they know,” says robotics engineer Eduardo Labarca, paraphrasing Jacques Cousteau. That’s why he and his team at Mountain View, California-based 9th Sense Robotics want to start up an online marine exploration project known as AcquatiCo. If it reaches fruition, it will allow computer users anywhere in the world to control an actual ocean-based submarine, while watching a real-time feed from its onboard video camera.
When someone mentions drug running, most people probably picture a person coming through an airport carrying a suitcase with a false bottom or with balloons stuffed up their nether regions. We don’t usually imagine things like submarines. Unfortunately, the South American drug cartels not only imagine them, but they build and operate them. To help combat these underwater smugglers, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S and T) is operating their own drug-running submarine called PLUTO to develop and test a new generation of detection equipment.
Submarine combat may seem like an obsolete relic from World War II films and Cold War thrillers, but the past 20 years have seen a growing number of increasingly quiet diesel-electric submarines turning up in some very unfriendly navies. In order to counter this threat, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a contract to the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) of McLean, Virginia to develop unmanned submarine hunters capable of operating for months on end without human intervention.
First-person video games are all very well and good, but there’s no getting around the fact that the person/vehicle that you’re controlling doesn’t really exist
. If that sort of thing bugs you, then you might like Dive Commander – it’s a web-based game, in which you control an actual, physical mini-submarine via your computer.
Underwater remote-operated vehicles, or ROVs, are almost impossibly fascinating. They’re controlled by a surface-based operator, who watches their real-time video feed and pilots them via a long umbilical cable. Although the big-league multi-million-dollar ROVs are used for things such as exploring the wreck of the Titanic
or studying hydrothermal vents, hobbyists have quite a bit of fun using their own home-built versions
just to see what’s under the surface of the local lake. Unfortunately, even to build one yourself, you need to be pretty technically skilled. That could change, however, as the OpenROV project is developing “easy to assemble” kits – it may even provide li’l ROVs that are ready to go, right out of the box.
Two hundred and fifty years ago, brewer Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for his St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. To commemorate this event, the Guinness company could have rolled out a stretch limousine, but it decided to go one better by launching a “deep-sea bar” in the chilly waters of the Baltic off Stockholm, Sweden. Designed by London-based Jump Studios, the modified tourist submarine was commissioned as part of the Guinness Sea Experience competition, that included an underwater trip inside the Guinness sub as a prize.
good came out of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill
, it was that it got people thinking about technologies for cleaning up future spills. While things like magnetic soap
, and autonomous robots
are all in the works, a group of scientists recently announced the results of their research into another possibility – oil droplet-gathering microsubmarines.