STATES CHRONICLE – Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California have developed underwater robots to explore ocean life. These small robots will be used for diving and gather more data about the ecosystems and habitats of sea animals and ocean currents. Many such robots helped scientists find out more about plankton.
Jules Jaffe, a research oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, has designed and developed these machines known as M-AUEs. The purpose of using these devices is to analyze environmental process taking place in the sea on a small scale. The underwater robots are equipped with sensors for the temperature to establish the conditions in the surrounding area.
These small robots swim up and down, maintaining a constant depth. The M-AUEs could be launched in swarms of hundreds to thousands to make sure they deliver a 3D view of the ocean currents’ interactions with the creatures living in the sea. A new study concerning this new technology was released on January 24 in the Nature Communications magazine.
Jaffe together with Peter Franks, a biological oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, has launched a swarm of 16 underwater robots. They were programmed to copy the swimming behavior of plankton, analyzing how these microscopic organisms are carried away by ocean currents. The research study was developed to test old ideas and reveal new data about how plankton manage to build up dense patches under the surface of the ocean.
Later, these microscopic creatures appear at the surface of the water as red tides. Franks claims that these plankton patches work like single bars. He has long believed that these dense swarms of plankton could help reproduction, feeding, and protection from predators. Approximately, twenty years ago, Franks managed to reveal a mathematical theory which argued that internal waves caused the plankton to form dense patches.
These internal waves represent massive, slow-moving waves which form below the surface of the ocean. If scientists were to test his theory, they need to track the movements performed by plankton. This could be tough since each creature is smaller than a grain of rice. Unfortunately, the technology is not as advanced as researchers would want it to be.
To test Franks’ theory, Jaffe believed that the development of these underwater robots might help to examine plankton.
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