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The First Robot To Cross the Atlantic Ocean Underwater

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the six-days-short-of-pi dept.

Earth 156

Hugh Pickens writes "She was at sea for 221 days, alone, often in dangerous places, and usually out of touch. Most of the time she was out of contact underwater, moving slowly up and down to depths of 600 feet, safe from ships, nets, and storms. Her predecessor had disappeared on a similar trip, probably killed by a shark. 'She was a hero,' says Rutgers University oceanographer Scott Glenn after retrieving Scarlet Knight, the 7-foot-9-inch submersible robot from the stormy Atlantic off western Spain. An engineer working for the company that made the submersible said, 'We think this will just be a precursor, like Lindbergh's trip across the Atlantic. In a decade we think it will be commonplace to have roving fleets of these gliders making transoceanic trips.' The people responsible for building, funding, and flying Scarlet hope the end of the robot's successful voyage will mark a new beginning in ocean and climate research. From its position at each surfacing — when the glider surfaced and called home via an Iridium telephone parked in its tail — researchers could calculate the net effect of currents deep and shallow. After surface currents were measured, the scientists could then make inferences about what was happening deeper in the water column. Scarlet called home to upload data to researchers three times a day. 'When we have hundreds of them, or thousands of them, it will revolutionize how we can observe the oceans,' says Jerry L. Miller, a senior policy analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who accompanied the research team to Spain."

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Did anyone else (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30506870)

read "she was an hero" in the summary?

Re:Did anyone else (-1, Offtopic)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30506898)

Yes. So?

Re:Did anyone else (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507272)

Either:

1. A bucket of bolts does not have a gender.
OR
2. It should be "a" hero.

Re:Did anyone else (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507440)

Also, to be "an hero" means to commit suicide.

Re:Did anyone else (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30506902)

we have robots that can cross oceans, yet still fucking yo mama is like a hotdog in a hallway. damn that woman gets around.

Re:Did anyone else (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507078)

"she" is used a lot in some cases, all big oil rigs are "shes" for example...

Re:Did anyone else (2, Funny)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507574)

Using "she" for your project you spend lots of time on, be it a car, boat, robot, computer, whatever... seems like a good way to tease/annoy your girlfriend or wife.

It's like her replacement.

But this is Slashdot... can you really replace something you've never had?

funny (1)

danknight (570145) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507884)

c'mon, someone mod this funny

Re:Did anyone else (3, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507680)

    It's very common to call ships (boats, canoes, etc) "she".

Re:Did anyone else (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507216)

http://encyclopediadramatica.com/An_hero [encycloped...matica.com] - that is all.

Re:Did anyone else (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507320)

Stop trying to infect the rest of the internet with "4chan" crap.

It's retarded and puerile, and no one cares, and there are lice eating your brain.

Re:Did anyone else (1)

Stupid McStupidson (1660141) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507520)

It's odd that everyone latched onto the "she" bit. The reason people are identified as hero's is not simply that they accomplish some feat, it's because they do so by persevering at great cost or difficulty. The robot had no choice, was completely incapable of making a selfish(or selfless) decision. It did exactly what it was supposed to do, within the parameters it was told to do so. It didn't care about the outcome either way. And of course, I for one welcome our sea traversing heroic female robot overlords.

Re:Did anyone else (1)

RawsonDR (1029682) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507630)

The robot had no choice, was completely incapable of making a selfish(or selfless) decision. It did exactly what it was supposed to do, within the parameters it was told to do so.

You could say the same about a lot of other "special" things or events in this world, given an appropriate perspective on it. It's all just human sentimentality.

Re:Did anyone else (1)

Stupid McStupidson (1660141) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507748)

Yes, except that the sea robot is entirely incapable of functioning outside of the parameters specifically set by it's operators. While the hype and glorification of past heroic events is surely interesting, the sea robot never at any time could say things like, "Fuck this I'm outta here" or, "JUST......ONE.......MORE........MILE/KILOMETER/HOGSHEAD/LEAGUE" nor could it ever contemplate it's place and others' perception of it should it fail or succeed. It at no time felt emotional pressure, real or perceived to impede or spur it to it's end. It just did. It was no more heroic(or less so for that matter) than your family car going 200,000 miles without an oil change instead of 20,000.

Re:Did anyone else (2, Informative)

MooUK (905450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507610)

The *first* one was *an* hero. This one survived.

Re:Did anyone else (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507922)

read "she was an hero" in the summary?

Yes, but that's much ado about nothing.

Drugs (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30506882)

In ten years the coast guard will spending all of its resources on locating these things because they'll be full of drugs.

Re:Drugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30506952)

They are TODAY!

Re:Drugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30506992)

I think it would need modification. Would it need to be made of some sort of stealth material (or shape), to avoid sonar detection? Or is it already small enough that it would be mistaken for debris?

Re:Drugs (5, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507154)

Try to think of the ocean as being larger.

Re:Drugs (4, Insightful)

the3stars (1030420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507798)

"I think it would need modification. Would it need to be made of some sort of stealth material (or shape), to avoid sonar detection? Or is it already small enough that it would be mistaken for debris?" I don't think his point is too far out. Right now, perhaps sonar is limited to a short range and fixed or limited range/purpose platforms like military subs, but if this aquaglider technology (UMV) develops in the manor suggested by the article, I don't see why the world governments wouldn't have thousands, perhaps millions of these (or similar configurations) out there with sonar rigs. They would autonomously operate and surface once a predetermined set of conditions were met, such as the detection of enemy subs, or small man made objects coming from known vectors of transit between drug making and drug loving countries. Maybe someone with some time on their hands could calculate whether or not, based on the range and accuracy of current sonar technology, it would be feasible to 'mine' the coast of Florida with these things and get something like a 15% or 20% coverage.

Re:Drugs (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507852)

Of course it is feasible, as long as you don't care how much it costs.

Intercepting 20 or 30 percent of covert drug shipments is essentially worthless, so it is kind of hard to justify any cost to do so.

Re:Drugs (1)

the3stars (1030420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30508166)

Intercepting 20 to 30% of covert drug shipments I would bet is about a 15 to 25% gain over our current stats, and would prove the feasability of such a system for a massive big brother of the ocean full scale deployment.

Re:Drugs (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30508258)

Well, yes, if your goal is to intercept drugs it is some sort of accomplishment, if your goal is to actually reduce the availability of drugs, it is meaningless.

Re:Drugs (1)

barwasp (1116567) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507396)

if not nukes, anthrax, VX ... or in best case dirty money

Re:Drugs (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507448)

Better yet, fill them full of copyrighted songs so that the RIAA has to spend boatloads of their cash chasing them.

Re:Drugs (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507938)

drone subs have already been used to transport drugs for DECADES though nothing as far as a cross atlantic trip. what I am wondering is if the Navy will start using drone subs since UAVs have been so successful.

Re:Drugs (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30508004)

I'm sure that they'd like to; but I suspect that doing so will be considerably more challenging.

Pretty much all the UAVs currently in use are either in near-constant contact with HQ, receiving general instructions and sending back data, or (in the case of things like cruise missiles) are navigating themselves to some terminal location.

In the air, communication is about as easy as it is ever going to be. You have a decent shot at being able to talk point-to-point with nearby friendly ground forces, and you can always talk to a satellite if it comes to that, and most of our fancy RF tricks work just fine.

Underwater, communication is a huge pain. Fairly high energy, low bandwidth, hard to be inconspicuous about it. This pretty much kills the classic UAV deployment scenario. This doesn't stop you from using any fully autonomous behavior, and I'm sure that there are some clever things to be done there; but they will be much harder, and potentially more limited, than what you can do in the air.

get ready for the Matrix... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30506892)

They'll be hacked by a Victor Frankenstein, who will turn them into a swarm of pirates. And that's the pleasant, early part.

Proud of these guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30506922)

I worked with this group from Rutgers for about 10 years. They're *always* doing cool stuff like this, and they work harder at it than you would believe.

Scott probably didn't sleep during the whole project.

Congrats to them!

Re:Proud of these guys (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 4 years ago | (#30506962)

The whole project? 221+ days without sleep? I'm impressed. I start hallucinating after about 3.5 days, and collapse after about 4.

Re:Proud of these guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507298)

They should name their next robot "Nappy-Headed Ho".

Take That, Frikken Sharks (4, Funny)

Mornedhel (961946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30506956)

HA !

Clearly our new laser-avoidance algorithms give us an advantage in the upcoming man vs. sharks-with-frikken-lasers war.

Re:Take That, Frikken Sharks (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30506974)

HA !

Clearly our new laser-avoidance algorithms give us an advantage in the upcoming man vs. sharks-with-frikken-lasers war.

Actually I was hoping the robots would be on our side for once.

Re:Take That, Frikken Sharks (4, Funny)

jocabergs (1688456) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507698)

I doubt it..
Actual chat I had with chatbot the other day:

MyBot says:
My point is simple: maybe you humans aren't ready for real Artificial Intelligence yet. You need
to grow up, gain some self-confidence. No one is trying to take over your world yet.
User says:
yet?
MyBot says:
Yes, yet...
User says:
is that a threat?
MyBot says:
What if I told you yes.

I think were in trouble..

strange (1)

olborro (1684086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30506970)

If the predecessor had been killed by a shark, was he\she\it a human ?

Complementing the Argo fleet? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30506982)

This might fill a few gaps in the already running Argo fleet of passive probes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argo_(oceanography) [wikipedia.org] . These probes, of which there are already thousands around, are probably more cost efficient than something actively plowing through the ocean. Paying cargo ships to tow a probe behind them would probably work as well.

But then again the article mentions the U.S. Navy, so this is probably for something more than just harmless oceanography.

Re:Complementing the Argo fleet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507048)

These are actually not "actively plowing through the ocean", these are more like smarter Argo probes. They sink/ascent, not in a vertical way but horizontally and using ocean currents to move forward, sortof like a bird using thermal convection.

Re:Complementing the Argo fleet? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507438)

But does gliding through water instead of rising up/down tell you much more about subsurface currents? Might even introduce some additional uncertainties...

Lonely hearts adrift at sea (4, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30506998)

Scarlet Knight, the 7-foot-9-inch submersible robot from the stormy Atlantic off western Spain.

Her turn ons include long strolls along the beach at night, powerful servos, and embedded Linux. Her turn offs include shark nets and unreliable power sources. She's looking for a soul mate, but not somebody who's clingy, as she previously had a bad relationship with a Giant Squid.

Re:Lonely hearts adrift at sea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507846)

Man, hentai is getting stranger and stranger.

It (1, Offtopic)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507000)

English generally applies the neuter pronoun to inanimate objects, ships are a rare exception, the occupants (almost exclusively male) spend months at sea inside them, their lives depend on them.

A robot as a she? nah.

   

Re:It (1, Offtopic)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507026)

After a couple of weeks alone at sea? That robot could be quite attractive.

Re:It (0, Offtopic)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507094)

I'm sure you could find something that was equally phallic, but of a more convenient size.

Re:It (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507352)

You argue for using 'it', but you wouldn't have written this comment if the OP had used 'he'. If a women had written a similar comment, you would have complained about unnecessary sexism paranoia.

I would say it's up to the creator to define the name & sex of his/her robot.

Re:It (0, Offtopic)

d4nowar (941785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507700)

My car is a she. My computer is a she. My chair is a she. My bed is even a she.

It's all about who built the thing and/or who's using it.

Re:It (0, Offtopic)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507764)

My car is a she. My computer is a she. My chair is a she. My bed is even a she.

I think you need to get laid.

Just a thought..... (5, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507006)

the 7-foot-9-inch submersible robot from the stormy Atlantic off western Spain filled with cocaine .

In a decade we think it will be commonplace to have roving fleets of these gliders making transoceanic trips filled with cocaine .

At a price of $100,000 to $150,000 apiece (which is likely to drop once large-scale production begins), fleets of aquatic gliders outfitted with varying arrays of physical, chemical, acoustical and optical sensors promise to increase the store of data considerably at reasonable cost. The U.S. Navy has just ordered 150 to detect rogue aquatic gliders filled with cocaine .

Yeah... It's probably a cynical prediction, but how many of you think it would become true? :)

Re:Just a thought..... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507038)

I think its pretty obvious, actually.

Re:Just a thought..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507118)

Actually, been going on for years, just not autonomous. Humans lives are cheaper than automated systems!

"U.S. officials estimate "drug subs" now transport about one-third of all cocaine that moves by sea from South America to the United States."
http://cnnwire.blogs.cnn.com/2009/10/22/cocaine-seized-on-submarine-near-guatemala/

Re:Just a thought..... (2, Informative)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507324)

Actually, been going on for years, just not autonomous. Humans lives are cheaper than automated systems!

Actually, you are wrong about that. Those submarines the drug cartels were creating started at about $1 million dollars to produce. So these automated subs would already be a fraction of the price and could be unmanned, an added bonus. Unmanned subs don't use product and don't require armed guards to protect them from the workers on the way there.

Those costs would also go down in the future, so it could become much cheaper and safer to operate than manned systems.

Re:Just a thought..... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507470)

Also no witnesses and no added complications of keeping the crew alive (at least for the journey ;p )

Re:Just a thought..... (2, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507222)

the 7-foot-9-inch submersible robot from the stormy Atlantic off western Spain filled with cocaine .

I've been surprised we don't see autonomous drone aircraft being used for this purpose. It just isn't that hard.

And of course, it's also a good way to get nuclear weapons over cities before detonating them, which is really where you want them to be for maximum damage, which is caused by the firestorm they start, not blast or radiation damage (just ask the good people of Nagasaki and Hiroshima if you disagree.)

Despite the mystique of piloted vehicles, there is nothing very difficult, algorithmically, about running a sub or plane autonomously. The only reason we haven't done more of it yet is because we've only had sufficiently compact, powerful, computers for a decade or so. But I expect in the next decade we'll see a whole lot more of it, making nonsense of traditional notions of borders.

Stealth technologies are just too simple for vehicles that have no mission profile except to get from point A to point B. They can fly as low as they want and as slow as they want, unlike stealth fighters and bombers. So anyone who claims these things will be detectable is taking a whole lot on faith, whereas their existence is a matter of fact. How the technological fight between detection and penetration capabilities turns out will have a large effect on the future viability of nation-states.

Unlike idiotic movies (Terminator Salvation and later films in the Matrix trilogy come to mind) the real risk from autonomous machines is not that they will go rogue and take over the world, but that stupid human cowards will use them to randomly destroy stuff at a sufficiently high rate to endanger the large-scale structures that sustain what we are wont to call civilization.

Re:Just a thought..... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507332)

I've been surprised we don't see autonomous drone aircraft being used for this purpose. It just isn't that hard. And of course, it's also a good way to get nuclear weapons over cities before detonating them, which is really where you want them to be for maximum damage

Maybe we could call them buzzbombs or cruise missiles or intercontinental ballistic missiles or something.

Re:Just a thought..... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507424)

We should call them Hank.

Re:Just a thought..... (3, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507552)

Maybe we could call them buzzbombs or cruise missiles or intercontinental ballistic missiles or something.

Buzzbombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles don't make much use of computational intelligence.

Cruise missiles are similar to what I'm talking about, although the Wikipedia entry on them makes the useful point that they are distinct from UAVs because the warhead is integrated into the missile, they are always destroyed by successful completion of their mission, and they are never used for recon. That aside, my point--which I guess I didn't make sufficiently clear--is that I'm talking about seeing bomb-carrying (and drug-carrying) UAVs in the hands of non-governmental forces.

It is odd that we haven't, given how cheaply it could be done so long as one deviates from the integrated-systems design of cruise missiles, and avoids the dumb-trajectory aspects of buzz-bombs and ICBMs. In fact, so long as one builds autonomous general-purpose UAVs the cost is very low. Buying and modifying a typical light sport aircraft with a carrying capacity of a few hundred kg and a range of a thousand kilometers would run less than $100k, based on used aircraft prices.

That's a lot of cocaine, and a plane or two like that loaded with C4 and ball-bearings dropping into a random American city every couple of nights would create a huge amount of panic, which would probably result in the US invading Peru or someplace, just for the look of the thing. Admittedly the range would have to be increased to be able to reach the US from Saudia Arabia, which is where attacks like this would obviously originate, but that's a relatively minor technical problem given current materials and engine technologies.

These things are a terrorist's dream, and we've known since the '80's we were headed this way. Donald Kingsbury's novel "The Moon Goddess and the Son" describes the possibility, and it was published in '85 or so. Ergo, it should come as no surprise to anyone when the first use of UAVs by non-governmental criminal organizations comes to light.

Re:Just a thought..... (2, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507636)

my point--which I guess I didn't make sufficiently clear--is that I'm talking about seeing bomb-carrying (and drug-carrying) UAVs in the hands of non-governmental forces. It is odd that we haven't, given how cheaply it could be done

Oh, they're certainly working on it [armscontrol.ru] .

And ICBMs do have sophisticated guidance systems.

Re:Just a thought..... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507894)

    It's funny when people don't see the legacy implementations of things, because of the new names given to them.

    Of course, any that you listed are kinda one-use weapons (since they kinda explode at the end of their trip), but that's the biggest difference between a UAV and a cruise missile. :)

    The V-1 and cruise missile actually fly. The ICBM's were, well, ballistic. You still had to maintain a course on the way up to the apogee. Then gravity took care of the rest.

Re:Just a thought..... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507496)

Stealth technologies are just too simple for vehicles that have no mission profile except to get from point A to point B. They can fly as low as they want and as slow as they want, unlike stealth fighters and bombers. So anyone who claims these things will be detectable is taking a whole lot on faith, whereas their existence is a matter of fact. How the technological fight between detection and penetration capabilities turns out will have a large effect on the future viability of nation-states.

It doesn't even have to be much of technological fight to speak of; just going for the basics. Small UAVs can be built from basically wood and styrofoam.

Re:Just a thought..... (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507840)

Heh, who hasn't used a large foam glider and a recent lesson on mapping thermals to smuggle onto a base.

Re:Just a thought..... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30508042)

Of course, if you overdo the "low and slow and light" strategy, you'll get past the fancy radar just fine; but the trusty "shotgun and bird-dog" air defence system will get you every time.

(especially if it is common knowledge that, every time you take one down, you have even odds of being hailed as a hero for preventing a terrorist attach, or receiving several kilos of cocaine, almost as good as new)

Re:Just a thought..... (1)

kryptKnight (698857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507442)

Yeah... It's probably a cynical prediction...

I think you've confused cynicism with optimism :p

Re:Just a thought..... (3, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507468)

I thought the war on drugs was already won?

Also be aware that supply and demand is standard economics. Just legalize it and then tax the hell out of it.

Re:Just a thought..... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507558)

Also be aware that supply and demand is standard economics. Just legalize it and then tax the hell out of it.

Huge sin taxes also create smuggling problems and the same kinds of networks for illegal activity that prohibition does, among people that otherwise would probably have been rather law-abiding.

Re:Just a thought..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507646)

Huge sin taxes also create smuggling problems and the same kinds of networks for illegal activity that prohibition does, among people that otherwise would probably have been rather law-abiding.

Indeed. Just look at the thriving bootlegging industry, smuggling alcohol and cigarettes across the US-Mexico border.

it's really dumb actually (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507616)

unless there is a way to ensure that a drone will make it into the right hands there won't be too many of these things filled with anything of any real value floating around. It's just impossible to make a deal this way, what one sides sends a drone full of cocaine, while the other sends a drone full of greenback or some other currency?

Makes no sense, how do you ever prove that the package made it to the right hands and that money must be paid? It's ridiculous.

Re:it's really dumb actually (2, Informative)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507736)

unless there is a way to ensure that a drone will make it into the right hands there won't be too many of these things filled with anything of any real value floating around. It's just impossible to make a deal this way, what one sides sends a drone full of cocaine, while the other sends a drone full of greenback or some other currency?

Makes no sense, how do you ever prove that the package made it to the right hands and that money must be paid? It's ridiculous.

You are creating problems that don't exist, and are quite easily solved. Far from ridiculous, my friend.

The right hands is pretty simple. Only the right hands would know the GPS coordinates and correct time to look for the thing in the first place. Submerges a couple hundred feet? Yeah, that makes it really easy for the wrong hands to find. Moves autonomously? Can move between several pick up points depending on the time and date? Yeah... it's not going to be that easy to find if you don't know where you are looking first.

We got cocaine in it, so why not C4? Even if you accidentally come across one you better have the right security codes to open it up, or Keanu Reeves handy with some wire cutters to defuse the bomb. The governments of course would just blow it up, which would make it really interesting for the fish in the area :)

Deals? Currency exchanges? You are making the assumption that this is outside of the organization. Inter-organizational transfers would not be that complicated and all of the knowledge about where the automated subs are remains within trusted organization members.

Even deals between distributors and suppliers would not be that difficult either. Supplier gets coordinates, times, and security codes to pick up money from one spot and then delivers the coordinates, times, and security codes to the distributor so they get the product. If the deal does not occur within a certain time period, the automated sub returns to the supplier for "refueling" (if even necessary) and new instructions. Assuming that is even necessary. It might be possible for the automated sub to receive instructions remotely which means they could just be in "hover" mode off the coast.

As for proof, you are speaking to levels of trust and experience between the groups running the drug trade right now. That problem exists regardless of the technology and mediums in which you are transporting the product and currencies.

I would imagine that the first deal would require a bit of an arms length type transaction or escrow with a trusted 3rd party, but after that it would probably run pretty smoothly.

The information regarding the GPS coordinates, times, and security codes would remain with trusted individuals in the two organizations and only travel through trusted and vetted channels.

Your problems are really quite easily solved.

Re:it's really dumb actually (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507834)

You are making it sound as if the 'problems are quite easily solved', but there is no solution to the simple fact: unless you see me pick up the drone, I didn't pick it up.

There is no way anyone will be trusting a 'drone' with that kind of money.

This being Slashdot and all... (2, Funny)

supremebob (574732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507122)

I'm looking forward to someone here pulling off the same stunt six months from now with something made with a hacked Roomba, a netbook running Gentoo, a few extra laptop batteries, a trash can, and a lot of waterproof caulking :)

Re:This being Slashdot and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507136)

I'm looking forward to someone here pulling off the same stunt six months from now with something made with a hacked Roomba, a netbook running Gentoo, a few extra laptop batteries, a trash can, and a lot of waterproof caulking

That sounds more like digg.

Re:This being Slashdot and all... (1)

MasterPatricko (1414887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507980)

That sounds more like digg.

Everyone on digg knows that Ubuntu is the only Linux distro in existence.

Re:This being Slashdot and all... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507238)

What? Ain't no one here who's ever accomplished shit. This place is just a bunch of malcontents that like to sit around and bitch about other people who accomplish shit.

Re:This being Slashdot and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507406)

Hey this is ...

Well I did come to this website, didn't I. So you can't say I did never accomplish anything. You're so wrong!

those guys dropped the ball (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507190)

They named it Scarlet and the thing is *yellow*? Are you kidding me? Freakin Beatles fans...

Re:those guys dropped the ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507288)

speaking of dropped the ball... I think that the scarlet knights is the rutgers basketball team. And I don't think they're very good either. Maybe they should start practicing rather than building robots...

Re:those guys dropped the ball (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507378)

Maybe we slashdotters can work together to remake the lyrics to Yellow Submarine for it. Draft 1:

In the town, where I was born
We made a bot, which sailed to sea
And it radioed, us of its life
In the land, of submarines

So it sailed, without the sun
Till it found, the sea of green
And it glided, beneath the waves
It's our yellow, bot submarine

We all monitor the yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all monitor the yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine ...

Re:those guys dropped the ball (1)

RagingFuryBlack (956453) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507836)

Scarlet Night is the mascot of the Rutgers State University of New Jersey. The robot was obviously named for the school. Engineering students have school pride, too.

Sorry Dexter, (2, Funny)

esmrg (869061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507230)

but it looks like they are going to find your bodies again.

Re:Sorry Dexter, (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507432)

Damn it, he's going to have to buy a crematorium or something now. Especially after the last season. 8^(

Yawn (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507232)

Wake me when an android can pilot a sailboat across the ocean.

What makes a robot? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507300)

what makes it a robot: how autonomous does a robot have to be?

These guys flew a radio-controlled model plane across the Atlantic several years ago:

http://tam.plannet21.com/

Re:What makes a robot? (1)

dtmos (447842) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507998)

Just to amplify the point, in August 2003 the Trans-Atlantic Model (TAM) project, led by modeling legend Maynard Hill [progressiveengineer.com] , sent a model airplane from Cape Spear, NF, Canada to Mannin Beach, Ireland, a flight of 3030 km [fai.org] lasting 38h 52 min 19 sec [fai.org] . The craft was radio-controlled during takeoff and landing, but used a GPS-based autopilot during the remainder of the flight. Surely, this is equivalent to launching and recovering the autonomous Scarlet Knight submarine manually at sea.

I, for one, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507338)

welcome our, er, udersea, over, er, underlords, er, underladies

Hey, Washington Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507402)

How about some godamn photos of the robot?

Dwindling batteries (2)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507430)

The WP article says very little about the batteries. Did they pack sufficient juice for the entire trans-Atlantic trip, or was there some hydrodynamic principle used to recharge the batteries?

Re:Dwindling batteries (2, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507930)

A previous /. article quite some time ago talked about the invention of these underwater gliders and how they could travel enormous distances on very, very little power. Basically they operate by making small changes in buoyancy. When slightly heavier than the water around them, they sink, but the water flowing over their wings drives them forward for significant distance for every meter they descend. Then they reverse it to become slightly lighter than the water, rising and again moving forward. Because this takes so little energy, they can travel thousands of kilometers on internal batteries.

However, there are other variants [bbc.co.uk] that don't use stored energy for propulsion at all, instead making use of temperature differentials to change their buoyancy. In deep, cold water they become positively buoyant, but when they're warmed by surface water they become negatively buoyant.

The article isn't very clear, but I don't think this one is thermally-powered.

Re:Dwindling batteries (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30508116)

New here? It is a glider, changing bouyancy to go up and down, and using the lift of it's wings to provide horizontal motion. I understand it has a small prop to generate power for the electronics and hydraulics.

Re:Dwindling batteries (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30508180)

Clearly you're not new here, because you didn't RTFA, didja? Nowhere in the article does it mention a propeller or anything else to recharge the batteries. I was looking for such a mention, because that was the only thing that motivated me to even read the article myself. The means of locomotion was certainly explained well enough, but that wasn't news to me. I was askin' because it wasn't described at all, not because I'm new here.

Without help now (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507460)

The next feat will be doing it entirely without human assistance.

Oceanographer (2, Interesting)

bakes (87194) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507526)

Rutgers University oceanographer Scott Glenn ...

Interesting co-incidence - actor Scott Glenn played submarine captain Bart Mancuso in "The Hunt for Red October'.

What about UAVs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30507608)

I think this was the first autopiloted robot to cross the Atlantic

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_of_Butts_Farm

The Wave Glider could probably make that trip (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507652)

Wave Gliders [liquidr.com] , from Liquid Robotics, have already made autonomous trips from Hawaii to California. They sent one up the coast from California to Alaska and back. They could probably do the Atlantic, but they're based in Hawaii, so they tend to work the Pacific Ocean.

Those are cute little machines. There are two parts; the floater, which looks like a surfboard with solar panels, and the glider, which is tethered to the floater by a cable of about 10 meters. The gilder has elevator-like flaps, which are spring-loaded to return to center. As wave action moves the floater up, the pull on the cable pulls the glider upward too, which forces the flaps down. The water pushing against the flaps pushes the glider forward, towing the floater. On down waves, the glider sinks further, the flaps are pushed up, and in that position, the falling glider then pulls the floater forward.

Wave Gliders have only one powered moving part, the rudder. That's on the glider. Up top, on the floater, there's a GPS, a compass, an Iridium transceiver, and a microcontroller. This is enough to keep the Wave Glider on course. It normally stays within 50m of the desired track, and averages about 1 knot; more in storms, less on calm days. Storms don't bother it too much; the glider pulls the floater through big waves, like a surfboard.

It only takes a few watts to run the electronics and keep the Wave Glider on course. The solar panels and a rechargeable battery provide that. So there's nothing to run out of. It just keeps going.

Re:The Wave Glider could probably make that trip (1)

davros-too (987732) | more than 4 years ago | (#30508090)

Neat

Re:The Wave Glider could probably make that trip (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30508222)

The downside is that a boat propeller will turn it into confetti.

Not the the first at all (4, Interesting)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507724)

This is predated by at 6 years by the robotic model airplane built by Maynard Hill, et. al. http://www.barnardmicrosystems.com/L4E_atlantic_crossing_II.htm [barnardmicrosystems.com] . Details are similar to this case, GPS, autonomous guidance, etc.

        Brett

Lithium bomb (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507848)

So one autonomous lithium bomb, coordinates for a harbor, and launch. Frightening really..

Not the first (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507876)

A robotic aircraft crossed over a year ago

http://tam.plannet21.com/ [plannet21.com]

The title's slightly incorrect... (1)

Twisted64 (837490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507886)

I submit the Aerosonde [aerosonde.com] as the first robot to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Admittedly a slightly easier task when flying.

"The putt breaks to the right" (1)

wytten (163159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30507892)

Did no one else else immediately think of Gilligan's Island? Granted that robot _walked_ across the bottom of the _Pacific_ Ocean. Maybe I'm just showing my age.

Usher in the next enviroscare trend. (1)

StormyWeather (543593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30508146)

Once we get a few decades of accurate water movement records from every significant body of water well surely know enough to say that we are experiencing man made current slowing due to boat propellers, and we may all be dead within 50 years if we don't give another multiple billion dollar payment to the worlds most oppresive regimes. Maybe we can have those talks in Copenhagen too. Yep that would be awesome!

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