(July 6, 2015) 19 partners from across Europe have come together to develop Europe’s first ultra-deep-sea robot glider. This glider will be capable of sampling the ocean autonomously at depths of 5000m, and maybe more in the future, for up to three months at a time. This project, which includes the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), has won €8M of funding from the European Union’s Horizon2020 programme to develop and test this innovative new technology
The capability of this new glider to reach at least 75% of the ocean will open up new possibilities for science and industry. These include monitoring submarine biodiversity and conducting environmental impact assessments for potential sea bed mining and exploration.
For example, the new glider will be able to detect the of presence of ‘plumes’ of sediment created by mining processes by using novel sensors developed by the NOC and housed in the ‘nose’ of the glider. These plumes are an important element of the submarine ecosystem.
Dr Mario Brito, who is leading the project from the NOC, said “The development and integration of sensors that can work at these depths will be a real challenge…it is something that has not been done before and so the science behind it is really innovative. Furthermore the range of sensors this glider can carry makes it well suited to a wide range of applications, both within research and industry.”