DEEP SEA RESEARCH VEHICLES AND AUTOMATION

The truth is that we understand more about the known universe than we do about the water the covers 70% of this planet. Out in space, we can look with telescopes and see a good deal of what is out there. Underwater, this is impossible. In order to gather information and perform research, researchers must take a trip, and they have been perfecting submersibles since 1620. Submersible vehicles have been around for a long while. Alvin, the manned underwater vehicle has taken over 4,000 trips into the deep blue, and it uses actuators to help do it.

A Brief History

You might get the idea that exploring the deep with the use of vehicles is a modern invention. After all, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea provided us with a journey into the deep that would have been classified as fantasy. The truth is, we have been traveling under water since 1620, when Cornelius Drebbel created the first vehicle to travel underwater, propelled by a boat on the surface. This served as the precursor to the modern vehicles we know today as ‘submersibles’.

Environmental Hazards

Operating a machine that goes deep under water comes with its own set of problems. The amount of pressure that water can have at deep sea levels could crush a car into a cube. Actuators not only need to be able to stand this immense pressure, but they need to be able to function reliably.

Along with the pressure, it’s also very cold down there. If not designed and developed properly, the temperatures can cause the mechanics on the vehicle to malfunction.

Each and every seal that is created on a vehicle that travels straight down into the water poses a potential threat, whether it is manned or unmanned. For this reason, most actuators are fitted to the outside of the vehicle, eliminating the possibility that a seal will break and render the vehicle, and the research, useless.

A Diverse Vehicle

Diversity is the key word in conducting research on an unmanned vehicle. In the same way that actuators need to be able to perform a variety of tasks on the Mars Rover, a vehicle that is hundreds of miles below sea level needs to be just as versatile. They are used in marine automation for cameras, lights, robotic arms, diving planes, rudders and welding. Researchers need to be prepared to make their vehicle do anything

The deep sea is still a largely undiscovered place. New species are being documented all the time, along with new ways of looking at evolution, biology, geology and geography. These devices play a key role in helping these manned and unmanned vehicles for deep sea automation further our knowledge of the mysterious deep, hopefully one day providing us with a more complete view of the water that plays such an integral role in our lives.

 

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