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Ocean Robot Developed In Palo Alto To Explore Unseen Depths

KCBS_740 PALO ALTO (KCBS) -- A robot developed in the Bay Area will help researchers explore ocean depths that haven't yet been seen, nearly three miles down.

The non-profit Schmidt Ocean Institute in Palo Alto has developed the custom built, high-tech robot to explore previously unseen depths of the deep sea.

The Schmidt Ocean Institute's Carlie Wiener told KCBS the remotely operated robot named "Su-Bastian," is equipped with a 4K camera lens, and sonar to capture high quality video and underwater samples.

"We'll be able to see the sea floor, and deep environments that we don't often get exposure to," Wiener said.

Wiener said developing the rover was quite the task, as it's specially made to weather near-freezing temperatures and water pressure.

"The vehicle itself can go down to depths as far as 4,500 meters, which is quite deep," Wiener said.

David Wotherspoon, the robot's project manager told KCBS the high-tech rover can work continuously for weeks because it runs on power from a retrofitted scientific ship.

"So long as I feed it power, and I make sure that internal oil levels are maintained, we can keep her down there pretty much indefinitely depending on the weather conditions," Wotherspoon said.

The ability for the robot to operate for weeks at a time is critical, with still so many unanswered questions about what's living deep in the ocean, Wiener said.

The remote vehicle is set to begin exploring off the coast of Guam later this month. A visit to the Mariana's Trench, the ocean's deepest point is set for November.

"We know more about the backside of the moon than we do about our deep oceans. We're still in an area of discovery," Wiener said.


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