Robot embarks on journey to scan Gulf of Mexico for submerged oil

iRobot's unmanned underwater vehicle the Seaglider is on the go to locate and evaluate the dispersed oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Written by Melissa Mahony, Contributor

iRobot, the maker of the Roomba, the unmanned vacuum sweeping more than 5 million homes, now hopes to help clean the oily mess in the Gulf of Mexico with its Seaglider.

The unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) is gliding up and down monitoring the large plumes of oil drifting in the Gulf. The data it's retrieving could possibly aid in recovery efforts, now and months from now. Powered by changes in bouancy, the robot is capable of spending 10 months under the surface.

At depths of almost 3,300 feet, or 1,000 meters (BP's leaking well is at 5,000 feet), the torpedo-shaped robot can determine water temperature, salinity and other marine data in a 3-dimensional platform. Transmitted via satellite, the information collected from the robot may potentially track the movement of the brown, sticky oil believed to be lurking around 2,296 feet (700 meters).

Vernon Asper of the University of Southern Mississippi's Oil Spill Response Team says in a statement:

It is important to track any hydrocarbons that might remain at depths for extended periods of time. Previous data suggests that there may be some of this material at depths below 700 meters and that it appears to be moving. We are working with iRobot to deploy Seaglider in these locations, and we expect to learn a tremendous amount about the path and ultimate fate of this material.

Learn more about the deep-diving robot in this video.


This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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