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Fleet of Robots Successfully Tracks, Monitors Marine Microbes

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An Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (UAV), or submarine drone.

Researchers from the University of Hawai?i at M?noa, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution used a fleet of autonomous robots to study a moving microbial community in an open-ocean eddy.

Credit: Elisha Wood-Charlson

Researchers at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa (UH Manoa), the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have shown a fleet of autonomous robots can track and study a community of marine microbes.

MBARI's Brett Hobson said the challenge was to figure a way to allow a team of robots to communicate with the researchers and each other while tracking and sampling phytoplankton in the open ocean’s deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM) layer.

Usually located more than 300 feet below the ocean's surface, investigating the DCM required technology that can embed itself in and around this layer, and monitor drifting microbes in open-ocean eddies.

UH Manoa's David Karl said this accomplishment demonstrated "there is no limit to what can be achieved when you mate a team of collaborative scientists and engineers with a coordinated fleet of smart robots."

From University of Hawaii News
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