Alvin Gets Back to Work After $42 Million Retrofit

Barely a week since successfully completing sea trials after a three year hiatus, the venerable research sub Alvin is already earning back the $42 million in hardware upgrades and engineering retrofits it's received—showing off its spacious new three-crew cabin with a quick dive to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. But … » 4/01/14 11:40am 4/01/14 11:40am

A Fleet of Unpowered Submarines Is About to Plumb the Ocean's Depths

Even though they cover two-third's of the planet's surface, we know precious little about how the oceans actually interact with the continents and atmosphere. What's more, our oceanic models are woefully incomplete—only capable of showing large areas with reduced resolution or in high detail over a limited area. But a… » 3/16/14 5:00pm 3/16/14 5:00pm

This Tracker Torpedo Keeps Social Tabs on Sand Tiger Sharks

Sand Tiger sharks have been patrolling coastal waters worldwide for more than 250,000 years. But with only a pair of pups born every few years, this placid apex predator is succumbing to human pressures. Part of the problem is that we still know virtually nothing about their habits—we can't help them if we don't… » 10/24/12 11:30am 10/24/12 11:30am

Is This Tuna-Bot the Future of US Harbor Security?

What's the difference between a tuna fish and an unmanned underwater vehicle? About a million years of purpose-built evolution. That's why the Department of Homeland Security is hoping to leverage Mother Nature's handiwork into a fleet of ichthyoid-inspired drones to defend our harbors. » 9/21/12 11:30am 9/21/12 11:30am

How a Classic Deep Sea Robot will Sweep 98 Percent of the Ocean Floor

Over the course of 4,400 dives, Alvin has done just about everything. Its recovered lost nukes, explored the ruins of the HMS Titanic, and upturned our understanding of the deep sea with the discovery of hydrothermal vents bustling with unimaginable forms of life. But after 48 years of service, the venerable ROV is… » 9/17/12 11:30am 9/17/12 11:30am

This Ship Flips to Rise Five Stories Above the Sea Surface

In the early 1960's, the US Department of Naval Research needed a new way to study the acoustic targeting for submarine rockets. The ship had to be silent and stable—more buoy than boat. The design that met the requirements became the world's only vertically-flippable research vessel. Either that, or the lamest… » 7/06/12 11:30am 7/06/12 11:30am

How Tide Predicting Machines Saved D-Day

How do you land 140,000 allied troops on an 5-mile long stretch of beach under heavy German bombardment? Very carefully. And to ensure the deployment of forces without stranding landing craft—while juking Field Marshal Rommel out of his sneakers—the Allies employed these machines to predict the height of the tides on… » 10/14/11 12:20pm 10/14/11 12:20pm

Deep-Sea Submersible Alvin, Discoverer of the Titanic, To Be Replaced…

The NY Times has a piece today » 8/26/08 10:30am 8/26/08 10:30am about the monumental task of forging a pressure hull out of raw titanium to be used in the replacement for the legendary Alvin, the Navy's only currently operational deep-sea scientific sub that first explored the wreckage of the Titanic. Where Alvin could dive 2.4 miles down, its…

Autonomously Schooling Robofish Will Become Cylons of the Sea

One day in the near future, when humanity has killed off all the fish in the sea, we'll be able to replace every single on of them using the research of University of Washington UW assistant professor Kristi Morgansen. That's because Morgansen, with her 10,000-gallon UW test tank, has almost perfected an autonomous… » 6/08/08 6:30pm 6/08/08 6:30pm