Navigation Links
NASA-funded robotic sub finds bottom of world's deepest sinkhole

A robotic vehicle designed for underwater exploration plunged repeatedly into the depths of Mexico’s mysterious El Zacatón sinkhole in late May, finding its previously undiscovered bottom 318 meters below the surface and generating a sonar map of its inner dimensions. The vehicle employed autonomous navigation and mapping systems developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute.

During a two-week NASA-funded exploration led by Bill Stone of Stone Aerospace, the Deep Phreatic Thermal Explorer (DEPTHX) revealed that the geothermal sinkhole, or cenote, did not have a tunnel or any other obvious underwater connections with neighboring cenotes in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. It also obtained numerous samples of water and the gooey biofilm coating the cenote’s walls.

"We’re very pleased about the performance of the DEPTHX system," said David Wettergreen, an associate research professor who headed Carnegie Mellon’s contingent of the research team. "We hit our technical objectives in creating a system that could explore and map autonomously."

In addition to gathering information regarding geothermal sinkholes, DEPTHX tested technologies and methods that might be useful in other underwater explorations, including the long-term possibility of exploring the oceans hidden under the icy crust of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. For the near term, NASA recently approved a project that will use these technologies to explore underneath the ice of West Lake Bonney in Antarctica’s Taylor Valley.

The DEPTHX vehicle, 2.5 meters in diameter, included 56 sonars that the Carnegie Mellon team used to determine the location of the vehicle as it explored the cenote. It also used the sensors to create maps of the sinkhole’s interior via a technique called simultaneous localization and mapping, or SLAM. Prior to the DEPTHX field experiment, SLAM had been used for navigating in buildings and mines, but had never operated in an underwater e nvironment or with such sparse sensor input.

Robots typically navigate by recognizing features, but cenote walls, while irregular, lack distinctive features. To overcome this challenge, DEPTHX had to navigate by recognizing a more global response from all of its sensors.

Wettergreen said demonstrating that SLAM could work in such a featureless environment suggests that it will have applications in environments with similarly sparse features, like rivers or mines.

Though initially operated on a tether, DEPTHX eventually operated autonomously, without a tether or human guidance, for eight hours at a time. "The fact that we never lost it, never required a rescue mission, is an achievement itself," Wettergreen added.
'"/>

Source:Carnegie Mellon University


Related biology news :

1. U of MN uses robotic surgery techniques in cardiac cell therapy research
2. 3-D ultrasound scanner could guide robotic surgeries
3. Current human embryonic stem cell lines contaminated UCSD/Salk team finds
4. Study finds more than one-third of human genome regulated by RNA
5. ASU researchers finds novel chemistry at work to provide parrots vibrant red colors
6. Same mutation aided evolution in many fish species, Stanford study finds
7. NC State scientist finds soft tissue in T. rex bones
8. Genrate: a generative model that finds and scores new genes and exons in genomic microarray data
9. Genetically modified rice in China benefits farmers health, study finds
10. Survey finds silver contamination in North Pacific waters
11. Anti cancer virotherapy well tolerated in first human administration, research finds

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:4/28/2016)... 2016 First quarter 2016:   ... with the first quarter of 2015 The gross margin ... (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) ... Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... 2016 The new GEZE SecuLogic ... web-based "all-in-one" system solution for all door components. It ... the door interface with integration authorization management system, and ... The minimal dimensions of the access control and the ... installations offer considerable freedom of design with regard to ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... Israel , April 14, 2016 ... Authentication and Malware Detection, today announced the appointment of ... assumed the new role. Goldwerger,s leadership appointment ... on the heels of the deployment of its platform ... BioCatch,s behavioral biometric technology, which discerns unique cognitive and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016   Ginkgo Bioworks , ... industrial engineering, was today awarded as one of ... of the world,s most innovative companies. Ginkgo Bioworks ... for the real world in the nutrition, health ... work directly with customers including Fortune 500 companies ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Raleigh, NC (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... find the most commonly-identified miRNAs in people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings ... here to read it now. , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the creation ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the ... a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the ... WDR5 represent an exciting class of therapies, possessing ... for cancer patients. Substantial advances have been achieved ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new Young ... cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool of ... More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: