A new deep-sea robot is to be
deployed in the northern Pacific and send back images from the
ocean depths to the Internet as part of a global research
project on underwater ecosystems.
The International University
Bremen (IUB) in northern Germany presented a prototype Monday
of the Deep Sea Crawler, which can transmit measurements and
video footage from depths of up to 6,000 meters (19,700 feet)
below the sea to the Internet using a web camera connected to
a fiber optic cable.
Until now, such research
devices required the costly presence of research ships.
The robot was developed for
use with deep-sea observatories planned by the International
Research Consortium on Continental Margins, grouping experts
from around the world, said Laurenz Thomsen, a professor for
marine studies at the IUB.
The consortium is working on
a number of global projects such as an early warning system
for earthquakes and tsunamis and hopes the robot will provide
insight into ecological changes.
After a test phase beginning
late in 2004, the robot, which cost 30,000 euros (36,670
dollars) to develop, will be placed near unmanned underwater
stations along the northwest coast of the United States. A
similar project on earthquake research is also planned for the
The images will be accessible
on the website www.deepseacam.com.
Thomsen said the system,
which was developed by US and Dutch researchers as well as
German scientists, may also be used in offshore oil
Norwegian oil company Statoil
provided the bulk of the funding for the project.