Submersibles: Underwater Robots for Ocean Exploration


Submersibles: Underwater Robots for Ocean Exploration

Submersibles are watercraft that can operate underwater. They are different from submarines, which are fully self-sufficient and can cruise independently, while submersibles usually need support from a surface vessel or a larger submarine. Submersibles have many uses, such as oceanography, archaeology, exploration, adventure, maintenance and recovery, and videography.

Submersibles can be crewed or uncrewed. Crewed submersibles can carry one or more people inside a pressure-resistant hull. They have windows or cameras to see outside and instruments to control their movement and depth. Uncrewed submersibles are also known as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) or unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). They are controlled by operators on the surface or on a nearby vessel using cables or wireless signals. They have cameras and sensors to collect data and sometimes manipulators to perform tasks.

The first recorded submersible was built by Dutch inventor Cornelis Drebbel in 1620. It was a wooden vessel that could dive and surface by filling and emptying water tanks. The first submersible used in war was Bushnell’s Turtle, designed by American inventor David Bushnell in 1775. It was a wooden and brass vessel that could move underwater using hand-cranked propellers and attach explosive charges to enemy ships.

Since then, submersibles have evolved significantly in design and technology. Some of the most famous submersibles include the bathyscaphe Trieste, which reached the deepest point of the ocean in 1960; the research submersible Alvin, which explored the Titanic wreck in 1986; the deep-diving submersible Nereus, which explored the Mariana Trench in 2009; and the DeepFlight Aviator, which flies underwater like an airplane.

Submersibles are valuable tools for ocean exploration and research. They can access areas that are too deep, dark, cold, or dangerous for humans or other vehicles. They can collect samples, images, videos, and measurements from the ocean floor and water column. They can also test new technologies and methods for underwater exploration and discovery.

Some of the current challenges and opportunities for submersibles include increasing their depth range, endurance, autonomy, and communication capabilities. As the ocean becomes more accessible and explored, submersibles need to be able to go deeper, longer, smarter, and faster. They also need to be able to transmit and receive data in real time or near real time, using optical, acoustic, or satellite signals.

Another challenge and opportunity for submersibles is to increase their public awareness and engagement. Submersibles can provide unique and captivating perspectives of the ocean and its inhabitants. They can also inspire curiosity and interest in ocean science and conservation. By sharing their data and images with the public through online platforms, social media, documentaries, and educational programs, submersibles can help bridge the gap between the ocean and the society.

Submersibles are not only vehicles but also partners for ocean exploration and research. They can help us learn more about the ocean’s mysteries, wonders, and challenges. They can also help us protect and manage the ocean’s resources and ecosystems. Submersibles are essential for advancing our knowledge and appreciation of the ocean.