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Underwater

When you inflate a balloon and then release it without tying the valve shut, it certainly shoots away quickly. Octopi utilize the same basic principle, although they suck in and then rapidly expel water. An international team of scientists have now replicated that system in a soft-bodied miniature underwater vehicle, which could pave the way for very quickly-accelerating full-size submersibles. Read More
Early every spring in Antarctica, mats of algae form on the underside of the sea ice. These mats – along with bacteria that live in them – serve as a food source for zooplankton, essentially kickstarting the food chain for the year. Given that the ice algae plays such an important ecological role, scientists from Denmark's Aarhus University have set out to better understand its distribution. In order to do so, they're using a high-tech underwater drone. Read More
Cuttlefish are fascinating animals, in that they use a pair of undulating fins to move forward and backward, turn on the spot, or hover in place. If you wanted to make an underwater robot that was highly maneuverable yet quiet and immune to tangled propellers, then the cuttlefish would be a good creature to copy. Well, a group of mechanical engineering students from Switzerland's ETH Zurich have done just that – plus they gave it an extra set of fins, allowing it to also move straight up and down. Read More
They may be slow on land, but when they're in the water, sea turtles are fast and maneuverable – qualities that are also desirable in underwater robots. Additionally, the robotic equivalent of a turtle's streamlined shell could be stuffed full of electronic components and batteries. It shouldn't come as a surprise, therefore, that both ETH Zurich and the ARROWS project have recently created their own turtle-bots. Now, the National University of Singapore has announced its own entry in the field, that can self-charge its batteries while at sea. Read More
If you've ever been asleep on a yacht in harbor when a submarine tests its sonar, you know that underwater sound is anything but trivial – one ping can send you out of your bunk and across the room. Small wonder that the major navies spend a fortune studying the impact of naval and civilian sonar systems on sea animals such as whales and dolphins, who live in a world of sound. Scientists at the University of Bath have developed a more cetacean-friendly sonar system called Acoustic Zoom that is not only less disruptive to marine life, but also improves resolution beyond that of current methods. Read More
We looked at 2014's coolest land toys earlier this month; now we leave the shore in our wake and head out to sea. The year in water toys kicked off in a big way at Boot Düsseldorf 2014 in January and it ran strong the year through. In fact, we'd say the past year saw reveals and market launches of some of the coolest water toys in recent history ... everything from transforming boats, to seven-figure personal submarines to underwater jet packs. Read More
Although it's tempting to refer to vehicle in the photo above as an ROV – a Remote-Operated Vehicle – the whole idea behind it is that it doesn't require an operator. Created by a team at Japan's Okayama University, the MOS/AUV (Move on Sensing/Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) is designed to find its own way along the bottom of the sea or a lake, performing various tasks as it does so. Read More
An increasing world population means more strain on resources, and requires increasingly innovative solutions. Japanese firm Shimizu has come up with one such idea. Ocean Spiral is an underwater city that seeks to make use of the ocean's rich resources. Read More
Antarctic scientists have combined measurements provided by an underwater robot with existing satellite data to show that Antarctic sea ice may be thicker than previously thought. Their first-of-a-kind high-resolution 3D maps cover over 500,000 square meters in the Weddell, Bellingshausen, and Wilkes Land sectors of Antarctica, and they reveal heavy deformation in all three near-coastal regions that produces mean sea-ice draft (thickness of the submerged part of the ice) far in excess of ice drilling and ship-based measurements. This is a big leap forward in our ability to understand why and how the ice is changing on both small and large scales. Read More
The observance in the United States this week of Veterans Day, a federal holiday honoring those who have served in the American military, holds special meaning for those who lost loved ones when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii during World War II. An underwater 3D imaging project is using modern technology to bring greater insights to this tragic historical event. Read More
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