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+ - Scarlet Knight First Robot to Cross Atlantic Ocean 1

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Hugh Pickens
Hugh Pickens writes "She was at sea for 221 days, alone, often in dangerous places, and usually out of touch. Most of the time she was out of contact underwater, moving slowly up and down to depths of 600 feet, safe from ships, nets and storms. Her predecessor had disappeared on a similar trip, probably killed by a shark, yet she was always able to do what was asked, to head in a different direction on a moment's notice and report back without complaint. "She was a hero," says Rutgers University oceanographer Scott Glenn after retrieving the 7-foot-9-inch submersible robot from the stormy Atlantic off western Spain. "We think this will just be a precursor, like Lindbergh's trip across the Atlantic," says Clayton Jones. "In a decade we think it will be commonplace to have roving fleets of these gliders making transoceanic trips around the world." The people responsible for building, funding and flying Scarlet hope the end of the robot's successful voyage will mark a new start in ocean and climate research. From its position at each surfacing, researchers could calculate the net effect of currents deep and shallow. After surface currents were measured, the scientists could then make inferences about what was happening deeper in the water column. The data were uploaded to researchers three times a day, when the glider surfaced and called home via an Iridium telephone parked in its tail. "When we have hundreds of them, or thousands of them, it will revolutionize how we can observe the oceans," says Jerry L. Miller, a senior policy analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who accompanied the research team to Spain."
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Scarlet Knight First Robot to Cross Atlantic Ocean

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  • This is really a major milestone accomplishment for robotics. Anyone who has worked on high-end robots in the lab or tinkered with home brew robots knows that things break really quickly when you put robots to the test in the real world. We've seen robots with higher levels of autonomy but few if any with this level of robust performance. I look forward to hearing the "lessons learned" from this voyage!

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