Transatlantic pioneer

    An underwater robot from Rutgers University will go on display at the Smithsonian Museum.

    A pioneering underwater robot built by Rutgers scientists is heading to the Smithsonian Museum to go on display. WHYY has more on the mission of the “Scarlet Knight.”
    (Photos courtesy of Dan Crowell, [audio:100305kgglider.mp3]

    The 'Scarlet Knight' at sea
    The 'Scarlet Knight' at sea
    Rutgers oceanographers and their Spanish colleagues lifted their yellow torpedo-looking robot from the Atlantic Ocean off Spain back in December. The unmanned robot had traveled for eight months and 4,500 miles.

    Trembanis: I don’t think it’s too far off to put it up there as the oceanographic equivalent to sputnik.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Art Trembanis is a professor at the University of Delaware, and wasn’t involved in the mission. But he does similar work with robots, and knows just what a feat it was for the Scarlet Knight to be the first robot to cross the Atlantic.

    The robot negotiated multiple threats — such as ships, fishnets, and corrosion from salt water.

    [youtube][/youtube]Glenn: But the biggest hazard of all is biological. It could easily have things grow on it. Fish are attracted to it and they use it as a place to hide. And larger fish can come and attracted by the smaller fish.

    Scott Glenn, who led the project, thinks the first robot he sent on a transatlantic mission sank because a large animal punctured the hull. Glenn says robots are less expensive and offer more efficient ways to collect information about ocean conditions, weather and climate change.


    View more photos on the Scarlet Knight’s Trans-Alantic Challenge site.Glenn: The important thing about sending a robot out there is there’s no people involved. You can put them into dangerous places, into storms, into the Arctic and Antarctic, and because of that we can sample the ocean much better.

    Trembanis says the success at Rutgers demonstrates that humans can have more remote monitoring of the oceans.

    Trembanis: Nobody thinks twice that there are satellites, literally hundreds of satellites whirling overhead monitoring right now. But here’s this first crossing. And I hope it’s certainly not the last.

    Glenn says his next goal is to send a fleet of robots to circumnavigate the globe.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal