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HomeRoboticsRobots for deep-sea restoration missions in sci-fi and actuality

Robots for deep-sea restoration missions in sci-fi and actuality


A science fiction/science reality evaluation of Three Miles Down by Harry Turtledove, the fictionalized model of the Hughes Glomar Explorer expedition 50 years earlier than the OceanGate Titan tragedy.

My new science fiction/science reality article for Science Robotics is out on why deep ocean robotics is difficult. Particularly when making an attempt to carry up a sunken submarine 3 miles underwater, which the CIA really did in 1974. It’s even more durable in the event you’re making an attempt to carry up an alien spaceship- which is the plot of Harry Turtledove’s new sci-fi novel Three Miles Below. It’s a pleasant Forrest Gump model of that 1974 Hughes Glomar Explorer expedition. Although the expedition was 50 years earlier than the OceanGate Titan tragedy, the identical challenges exist for at present’s robots. The robotics science within the guide could be very actual, the aliens, not a lot.

In 1974, the CIA deployed a 3 mile lengthy, 6 million pound robotic manipulator to recuperate a Russian submarine. The quilt story was that Howard Hughes was deep sea mining for manganese nodules- which unintentionally began everybody else investing in deep sea mining.

The Glomar Explorer was additionally a breakthrough in pc management, because the ship needed to keep on station and transfer the arm to the sub within the presence of wind, waves, and currents. All with an array of 16-bit microprocessor, 5MHz clock, 32K phrases of core reminiscence Honeywell computer systems. Take into account {that a} late mannequin iPhone makes use of a 64-bit microprocessor, a 3GHz clock, 6GB of RAM and a GPU.

Turtledove takes one main liberty with the in any other case exhausting science retrospective: the CIA recovering the Soviet sub was in flip a canopy story masking the true mission to salvage the alien house ship that apparently collided with the sub!

The dry humor and a spotlight to scientific particulars makes for an entertaining sci-fi compare-and-contrast between deep sea robotics and computer systems within the Seventies and the current day. It’s a enjoyable read- not only for roboticists and pc scientists.

For additional robotics science studying:

For additional scifi studying, try:




Robin Murphy
is a Raytheon Professor of Laptop Science and Engineering at Texas A&M College and Vice-President of the not-for-profit Heart for Robotic-Assisted Search and Rescue

Robin Murphy
is a Raytheon Professor of Laptop Science and Engineering at Texas A&M College and Vice-President of the not-for-profit Heart for Robotic-Assisted Search and Rescue

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