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Long-Range Undersea Robot Does Its Own Research

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Tethys in Monterey Bay

Tethys floats at the surface in Monterey Bay.

Todd Walsh / MBARI

A new breed of undersea robot promises to give oceanographers a deeper understanding of ocean life by going faster, farther, and longer than its predecessors—and by doing a little thinking all on its own.

Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute say their newest autonomous underwater vehicle, called Tethys, introduces a new class of AUV that will take their oceanic research to a whole new level.

The two types of AUVs that researchers have relied on in the past both had their drawbacks. Propeller-driven vehicles could travel at a relatively quick pace and carry big payloads but could only be out at sea for a few days. Another type, called gliders, could endure weeks-long expeditions but were seriously lacking in the speed category. Traditional gliders top out at about 0.5 mph, according to the team's statement.

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