© 2023 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Engineers on E/V Nautilus expedition test 3 remotely operated vehicles

Uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) DriX going for a test drive.
Ocean Exploration Trust
Uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) DriX going for a test drive.

Exploration Vessel Nautilus has concluded its third expedition for this year. The Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute led the most recent mission to advance the tools used in its work.

Engineers tested three remotely operated vehicles in waters south of the main Hawaiian Islands.

DriX is an ROV that stays afloat at sea level. It is the largest of the three at 7.7 meters long. The slender vehicle is able to move through waves at high speed.

Mesobot is a hybrid ROV designed to study the ocean layers up to 1,000 meters deep without interrupting light-sensitive organisms. It is the smallest of the three with a height of 1.5 meters.

Nereid Under-Ice is another hybrid ROV. It was originally designed to travel through icy waters. NUI is about 2m high.

Larry Meyer, director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire and one of the lead scientists on the expedition, said submarines are not the most effective way to study the ocean.

"A submarine that has people in it is one way to explore. You can see maybe 10-20 feet ahead of you. You can't see very much. You don't go very fast. You put a tremendous amount of expense into life support systems, so you're constrained with a submarine in that sense," Meyer explained.

"The uncrewed vessels remove the need for life support systems. The uncrewed systems can stay in the water for days at a time," Meyer told HPR.

The fourth 2022 E/V Nautilus expedition began Wednesday, May 25. The ship is headed for the Johnston Atoll — about 700 nautical miles southwest of Hawaiʻi.

The Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute is hosted by the University of Rhode Island in partnership with the Ocean Exploration Trust, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of New Hampshire, and University of Southern Mississippi.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
Related Stories