Europe's First Ultra-deep-sea Robot Glider Planned

An alliance of 19 partners from across Europe has been formed to develop Europe’s first ultra-deep-sea robot glider.

The glider will be able to autonomously sample the ocean at depths of 5000m for up to three months at a time. This project, named BRIDGES, includes the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), and won €8M of funding from the European Union’s Horizon2020 programme to develop and test the new vehicle.

New possibilities will be opened up for science and industry with the ability of this new glider to reach at least 75% of the ocean, for example, monitoring submarine biodiversity and conducting environmental impact assessments for potential sea bed mining and exploration.

In one potential application, the 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. Such plumes are a key element of the submarine ecosystem.

Dr Mario Brito, project lead from the NOC, commented:

NOC will also be responsible for the design and build of pressure tolerant structures within the glider, propulsion systems, and sea testing.

The final test is scheduled to take place in September of 2019 off southeast Ireland. NOC will use advanced ‘risk and reliability’ techniques to accurately quantify the risk of the glider failing under particular conditions.

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