Download here: Episode 45 - AUV Missions
Oscar Schofield is Professor of Bio-Optical Oceanography at the Rutgers Coastal Ocean Observation Lab or COOL lab at Rutgers University. Schofield tells us about the autonomous underwater gliders that the COOL lab uses to explore the depths of the ocean for months at a time, mapping currents and collecting valuable data on our oceans. These masters of efficiency cruise the oceans by taking advantage of small changes in buoyancy, gliding through the water in a saw-tooth pattern by pumping small amounts of water in and out of their torpedo-like bodies.
Schofield focuses on the specific case of the Scarlet Knight, a fantastic little glider that managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean fully autonomously while dodging fishing nets, strong currents and even the occasional shark. This resilient little glider's mission was meant to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to take advantage of the power of robotics to take care of our planet and help preserve its wealth.
Mark Moline is Professor at the Biological Sciences Department and part of the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences at Cal Poly State in California.
He just came home from a month-long expedition in the arctic with a team of 17 people and different types of exploration robots. In particular, he tells us about the work done with his AUVs in observing life under the icy arctic surface. To his surprise, the organisms and life forms he found there were well awake, courting and moving instead of the cold winter stupor which was expected. Moline also discusses challenges which arise when using robots in freezing conditions, such as ice accumulating on the robot when it is at the surface or having to find holes in the ice to emerge. Interestingly, the technology used to scan the ice could prove useful to effectively monitor global warming. Finally, he tells us about other missions he's done with AUVs to monitor penguins and discusses the use of underwater robots to study biology in the future.