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Long-Running Underwater Robot Lost At Sea

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the all-mechanical-pincers-bury-the-dead dept.

Robotics 132

this_boat_is_real writes "Somewhere off the coast of Chile a pioneering underwater robot named Abe lies in a watery grave today. The Autonomous Benthic Explorer was one of the first truly independent research submersibles, being both unmanned and un-tethered to its launching ship. While on its 222nd research dive on Friday all contact with the craft was lost, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has announced."

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Slashdotters And Niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470144)

Slashdotters are like naive people who go to Africa for the very first time. They look out the window and say, "Hey, look at all the niggers!"

first! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470148)

and now back to 4chan before i get slashdot cancer

Good riddance (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470600)

And take your poopy dick with you, Slashdot is AIDS-y enough already.

Release the Kraken? (1, Funny)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470154)

I think we are well and truly fucked.

Re:Release the Kraken? (2, Insightful)

ItzRobZ (1761366) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470176)

Great, battle of the Titans in real life? Something tells me this is too much of a coincidence!

Re:Release the Kraken? (4, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470248)

Well, may it's not lost.

Maybe the sub truly is autonomous, as in "having autonomy; not subject to control from outside; independent"?
 

Re:Release the Kraken? (2, Funny)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471436)

Wait, I can't get the meme straight in my head...

Is a newly self-aware Automated Undersea Vehicle an Overloard or an Underlord?

Re:Release the Kraken? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31472508)

I made an autonomous robot one time. It was modelled after a goose. It was always asking for directions (embedded software patches).

Re:Release the Kraken? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470702)

It's Clash of the Titans, you insensitive clod!

Re:Release the Kraken? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470178)

That's what she said!

Re:Release the Kraken? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31471884)

Shouldn't your declaration include the obligatory car analogy? Or at the very least a timely Toyota reference? Please try to be a little more entertaining or topical in regards to your proclamations of doom.

they where right! (2, Informative)

jisou (1483699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470192)

all the movies form the fifties about giant sea monsters being released by earthquakes are true! We must prepare are selves by watching hours of scifi original movies! Its also no coincidence, 222nd dive? that's 1/3 evil.

Re:they where right! (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470216)

Actually, not all robot vehicles last like the Mars rovers. They are sensational robots. There are many robots that never return from their maiden voyage. ABE has done a lot of good. It will be good to know what did the robot in, but this is not a day to panic. I recently let go of my 21 year old Honda Accord. It had 222k miles on it. Closest it got to an earth quake was a fender bender. At least ABE has avoided the humiliation of being gutted and sold for parts or put on display in some museum where people can ask continuously "what's that?"

Perhaps we should institute a byte/per dollar lifetime achievement awards program for data collection robots? Certainly ABE would be in the record books for a long time, and with a higher rating than perhaps Hubble? Hard to say, but would be interesting.

Re:they where right! (0, Flamebait)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470688)

I wonder where all the people are who were complaining about us littering the moon's "ecosystem" when NASA crashed that rocket into it? Surely this is a hundred times worse because it's now garbage in an actual ecosystem.

Re:they where right! (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471000)

If there were two, then one could help the other.

Mom, what is an Unidentified Submersible Object. Stay away from it ABE.

--

You are in a small chamber.
Examine chamber.
There is hardware for hanging a curtain. A pipe is sticking out from the wall; it may be a microphone.

Re:they where right! (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470258)

This movie is from the 80s... The Abyss [imdb.com] . It even had a ship the Benthic Explorer, no doubt what this one was named after.

Re:they were right! (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470400)

The Abyss is famous for its animation of the water tentacle. Way ahead of its time. Younger readers who have not seen it should check it out.

Re:they were right! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471048)

It was a good film, but I don't think it was particularly popular. Not enough explosions, probably.

A pal had the special edition including "The Making Of..." which is worth a watch too. Apparently the female star sulked throughout the whole production.

Re:they were right! (1)

Tesen (858022) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471142)

ME? I believe it was only after they pounded on her chest for hours to do the drowning revivial scene. She left the set because after hours of filming the last take, the camera ran out of tape.

Re:they were right! (2, Informative)

Bottles (1672000) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471192)

Film. The camera ran out of film.

You kids...

Re:they were right! (0, Offtopic)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471702)

Apparently the female star sulked throughout the whole production.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio sulked through almost every production she was ever in. Maybe one of the reasons she's only got 27 entries on her reel and everything since 2004 has been TV and hasn't been in a decent movie since 2000.

Be difficult talent long enough and word gets around. She was pretty hot as Carmen in Color of Money, that was just three years before The Abyss.

Re:they were right! (1)

halowolf (692775) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471342)

But watch the directors cut so that the ending actually makes some sense.

Re:they were right! (1)

Hungus (585181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471530)

Really? I thought the directors cut was worse than the theatrical release.

Re:they were right! (2, Informative)

snart (1767112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31472090)

Better yet, see the director's cut. The added 20 or so minutes completely alter the film. It goes from a really good flick a nearly great flick. And Ed Harris is a total babe.

Re:they where right! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470538)

We must prepare are selves

Sorry, but I need to you're innate.

Re:they where right! (1)

WinstonWolfIT (1550079) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470686)

Spell-check has failed you young padewan. WERE. WERE.

floaties? (2, Interesting)

Garganus (890454) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470194)

And nobody on the sub engineering team thought, "hey, maybe we should add a ballast balloon that floats it to the surface if it loses all contact with the surface." Wow.

Re:floaties? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470218)

the shrapnel created by a glass sphere implosion at two tons per square inch was enough to shred armored steel antennas and hydrophones. what chance do you think a flimsy balloon would have you fucking ignorant idiot ?

Re:floaties? (5, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470264)

Touché, vulgar anonymous poster.

The people that design these things are smart. Smarter than the average poster here in their field. If Joe Armchairengineer can think it up, I'm pretty damn confident that the engineers behind ABE thought of it too.

In fact, from the WHOI release, there's this nugget:

ABE was equipped with several independent systems to bring it back to the surface at the end of a dive or should a fault occur. The Melville remained in the vicinity to see if ABE had resurfaced, at first searching for ABE’s strobe lights in the darkness. Researchers tried to establish radio contact with ABE in the event it had surfaced, but attempts turned up nothing.

Re:floaties? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470328)

Ignorance and arrogance are a powerfully bad combination.

Wow.

Re:floaties? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470398)

And nobody on the sub engineering team thought, "hey, maybe we should add a ballast balloon that floats it to the surface if it loses all contact with the surface." Wow.

Engineering team says "If the submarine is operating at such high depths and pressures that titanium pressure enclosures and glass spheres fail, what would you make your balloon from?"

Re:floaties? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470486)

Engineering team says "If the submarine is operating at such high depths and pressures that titanium pressure enclosures and glass spheres fail, what would you make your balloon from?"

well they would make it out of unobtainium of course. sheesh

Re:floaties? (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471668)

If you fill it with something less dense than water, (gasoline, for instance), then it saves a lot of stress on the materials. I'm sure that the art has advanced a bit since 1957, but failure is almost always still a possibility.

Re:floaties? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470528)

Learn to ballast, idiot. It would be dependent on the strength of the pumps and ballast tanks. Look at the pic. There aren't any ballast mechanisms or even elevation control surfaces other than two vertical propellers. Think of ABE as an undersea helicopter(or autogyro [wikipedia.org] to be precise) rather than a submarine.

Also, it's hull markings indicate NCC-1701 B. Badass.

Re:floaties? (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470642)

Learn to ballast, idiot.

Win!

I want a minisub.

That is all.

Re:floaties? (4, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471194)

It's been a while since I worked with the WHOI folks so my memory is a bit hazy. But generally these underwater submersibles come with:
  • A descent weight, used to make the craft negatively buoyant for the initial descent, then dropped to leave it neutrally buoyant.
  • An ascent weight, dropped at the end of the mission to make the neutrally buoyant craft positively buoyant.
  • A bladder which can be pumped with oil from a reservoir tank to fine-tune buoyancy.

Air doesn't work because of the enormous pressure involved. A 3000 psi scuba tank could only inflate a balloon down to about 2000 meters. Below that, the water pressure is greater than that inside the tank, and opening the valve would result in water forcing the balloon into the tank, rather than air inflating the balloon. A 10000 psi high pressure tank would work at 5000 meters, but would only result in about a 30% increase in volume, meaning you'd need a very big tank to be able to raise the entire craft in a catastrophic failure. Furthermore, the air would expand as the craft rose, risking rupturing the balloon. That's why the buoyancy control uses an oil bladder - oil is relatively incompressible.

Dropping the ascent weight helps raise the craft at the end of a mission. But usually they're relatively lightweight so you can attach them manually. The 17-inch glass spheres [benthos.com] typically used to house equipment provides over 50 pounds of buoyancy. The failure of one of these spheres at a depth of 3000 meters (~4500 psi) would release (4500 psi) * 4/3 * pi * (8.5 inches)^3 = 1.3 MJ of energy. A stick of dynamite is about 2.1 MJ, so losing one sphere is pretty much guaranteed to cause all the other spheres to fail. If the remainder of the craft somehow survived all that energy release, the loss in buoyancy would overwhelm what buoyancy you'd get by dropping the ascent weight.

Re:floaties? (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31472138)

You wrote:

> Furthermore, the air would expand as the craft rose, risking rupturing the balloon.

This is why such a balloon would need a _valve_ or a hole at the bottom, to allow excess gas to escape. It's precisely the same reason that SCUBA and deep sea divers doing a "free ascent" need to exhale quite a lot on their way up, lest they try to hold the expanding gas in their lungs and do something really destructive to their delicate alveoli and even give themselves serious embolisms.

I am curious about the failure mechanism of these spheres. I can easily believe that an old, fatigued sphere can begin to crack and fail the rest of hte way catastrophically, but I'm curious how the failure spreads. Spewing glass shards cracking the other spheres? Shock wave directly cracking the sphere, or shock wave smacking the spheres against each other? Is the blast or shock wave from the failed sphere basically spherical, or is it directional from the way the sphere fails?

no skynet tag? (4, Funny)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470196)

what? no skynet tag?

bet the robot became self-aware and decided "to hell with this....I'm making a break for it!"

Now, it's probably in league with those sharks with laser beams.

Re:no skynet tag? (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470330)

How about an Abyss [wikipedia.org] tag?

Re:no skynet tag? (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470590)

'cuz....they (men in suits) would suppress that sort of thing.

Re:no skynet tag? (0)

empgodot (1044446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471240)

I, for one, welcome our new underwater robot overlords.

Re:no skynet tag? (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471450)

Overlord.... or Underlord?

Bad choice for movie night (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470202)

Maybe showing the sub "Free Willy" wasn't the best move.

Re:Bad choice for movie night (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31471962)

The mods thought you were making a porn reference.

Who'd have thunk... (1, Funny)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470206)

Who'd have thunk it would be an unmanned submersible that would first become self-aware?

/Oh, please let it be nuclear powered.

Re:Who'd have thunk... (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470718)

And it's first and last thought was: Hm, I feel an interesting sensation all over me, pressing on me from all sides at once. I think I'll call it.... pressure. I wonder if it will be friends with me...<CRACK>

Failsafe recovery? (0, Redundant)

JesseL (107722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470214)

I wonder if it had any kind of watchdog controlled system to inflate a flotation device or anything? (If it did, it apparently didn't work)

You'd think it would be a sensible feature to have on such an expensive and unique piece of equipment.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (3, Insightful)

JimmytheGeek (180805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470242)

You think there is a mechanism of recovery more robust than the device itself? The pressure that sub handled was ungodly.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470260)

it did have multiple failsafes. and it didnt work due to glass shrapnel from the buoyancy pods.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (4, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470272)

From the WHOI press release: "ABE was equipped with several independent systems to bring it back to the surface at the end of a dive or should a fault occur. The Melville remained in the vicinity to see if ABE had resurfaced, at first searching for ABE’s strobe lights in the darkness. Researchers tried to establish radio contact with ABE in the event it had surfaced, but attempts turned up nothing."

Protip: the people that design these things can, and likely do, fit square pegs in round holes.

Suggesting "durrr, attach a balloon" is, in my not very humble opinion, insulting to the engineers behind these things.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (2, Funny)

JesseL (107722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470312)

Interesting info. I appreciate it.

Why be such a dick about how you share it though?

Re:Failsafe recovery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470352)

Maybe because your comment made it vividly apparent that you didn't read the fucking article?

Re:Failsafe recovery? (0, Troll)

JesseL (107722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470404)

Actually AC, I did read both the linked pages and neither says anything about the failsafe mechanisms.

But, I suppose that's not really consequential as long as you think you might have a pretext to spout something vitriolic.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470696)

Really I dont see how he could of had a tone. I mean it is only text and u the reader make it what it is. I read it and heard it said softly like a mother to her child right before it falls a sleep. But then maybe u are paranoid and think everyone has a harsh tone. I couldnt tell ya all i know is that u sure do offer nice snacks.

Rmbr: Dont feed the trolls :P

Re:Failsafe recovery? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470396)

Because you're an idiot.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470804)

How the hell are you able to type with my balls in your hands?

Re:Failsafe recovery? (0, Redundant)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470752)

And yet..., if those engineers are so smart, how come poor ABE is rusting at the bottom of the ocean with only some ugly fishes for company. I think next time they should throw in a balloon, just in case.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470940)

Ever try inflating a balloon in an environment of 7000psi? It's not like you can just use a regular tank of compressed air to fill it up.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471498)

You can't inflate a balloon at those depths. Not without a lot of pressure which means a very heavy tank.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470928)

Can we cut out the "Protip" bullshit? Thanks.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (1)

timlash (1320631) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470288)

Did anyone think to look inside the Woods Hole?

Re:Failsafe recovery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470340)

Which one of the two dozen or more "holes" are you talking about?

...oh, I thought you were talking about *Tiger* Woods. Never mind.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470364)

I wonder if it had any kind of watchdog controlled system to inflate a flotation device or anything? (If it did, it apparently didn't work) You'd think it would be a sensible feature to have on such an expensive and unique piece of equipment.

A heavy device needs a lot of lift and that translates into a large physical volume of gas at depth. Keep in mind that every 33 feet of depth is one additional atmosphere of pressure. 66 feet down you need three times as much gas to inflate a lift bag as you would on the surface. At great depths it may be impractical to carry enough gas.

--
Perpenso Calc [perpenso.com] for iPhone and iPod touch, scientific and bill/tip calculator, fractions, complex numbers, RPN

Re:Failsafe recovery? (1)

Vegemeister (1259976) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470920)

Use mineral oil to make it very slightly buoyant, so that if power fails it floats to the surface. Pretty much incompressible. If you fill the whole thing you don't need the hull to withstand significant pressure. If you want a faster ascent, also add a balloon that gets inflated from a canister of liquid CO2. Hold the valve closed with a solenoid actuator. Rocket science is engineering, but not all engineering is rocket science.

Re:Failsafe recovery? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31471028)

I believe empty glass or ceramic spheres are used since they provide a lot of buoyancy from a small volume.

To get the required buoyancy using oil, instead of having a sub about the size of a car, you would end up with something the size of the ship it is deployed from.

Just like a rocket or the space shuttle, I'm sure these machines are highly optimized by people who (unlike us) know what they are doing.

The idea of being a passenger on a submarine or rocket designed by slashdot are equally unappealing.

It's a message from the Chilean mob... (5, Funny)

DemonBeaver (1485573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470234)

Abe is now sleeping with the fishes.

Re:It's a message from the Chilean mob... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470408)

Don't you mean the sea bass?

Re:It's a message from the Chilean mob... (2, Funny)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470830)

Abe is now sleeping with the fishes.

Not according to the official page:

Page loaded Sunday March 14 2010 1:11:36 AM PT
http://www.abevigoda.com/ffb.php [abevigoda.com]

Cthulhu strikes again! (5, Funny)

gront (594175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470292)

Om Nom Nom Nom... tasty robot snack.

http://www.goominet.com/unspeakable-vault/vault/309/

Re:Cthulhu strikes again! (2, Informative)

John Saffran (1763678) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470698)

There's been sounds from a very large biological creature recorded around the area .. it's 4 noisier than a blue whale and is known as The Bloop (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloop)

Re:Cthulhu strikes again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31471078)

Did you know the earth is an egg. There is an infant cosmic creature living inside earth. What we perceive as earthquakes are the tremors of the hatching process which has gone on for millions of years. One day it will hatch and the creature will be freed. We as a species are merely the bacteria that seeped through the cracks in the shell.

When the world needs a hero... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470320)

there's only one fit to go into the Ocean. No, not Superman. His hair gel would contaminate it worse than the Exxon Valdez. No, not Batman. Money can't solve this problem. No, not Spiderman. He doesn't have Water-spider powers. And no, not Wonder Woman. It's that time of the month. Yeah.

So we must get Aquaman, who can use his aquatic telepathy to save this missing craft.

That explains last weeks episode of Lost... (3, Funny)

avatar139 (918375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470414)

...Charles Widmore must have been monitoring ABE when it somehow found the Island. I expect we'll see a fake press release showing ABE's resting place any time now.

Nah... (1)

G-Man (79561) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470426)

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Underwater Robots, it's finally free!

Isn't this the episode (2, Funny)

iplayfast (166447) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470450)

Isn't this the episode where Gilligan finds a mysterious robot in the water and the professor tries to use it to communicate to the outside world, and the skipper hits Gilligan in the head with his hat?

I have to assume there will be a followup design? (2, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470496)

After such an illustrious career shouldn't they use this as the basis of their next design only adding to it additional features that have been proven on more recent designs from other teams? I mean making all these one-off designs like all the underwater robots seem to be has to be the least efficient way to go from both a cash perspective as well as a getting science done perspective.

Re:I have to assume there will be a followup desig (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470774)

The replacement for ABE is Sentry. http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=38095

The cost of running support ships limits the number of subs used and the amount of science which is done.

Re:I have to assume there will be a followup desig (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471462)

They don't make very many of them. They're often made with the best technology available at the time. They're usually made with a specific set of tasks in mind, then later modified. Abe was around 15 years old.

Pirates (1)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470524)

I was going to ask if they suspected that I had hacked the OS and made it meet me at sea so I could steal it ( as a joke ), and then
I realized that this would make a good drug smuggling bot and really with all seriousness, isn't it possible that foul play could be at work and I'm guessing the device is worth at least a couple bucks to somebody who wants to get under the radar, so to speak.
From TFA, it seems also that it could be asleep. Maybe it just overslept.

Russians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470548)

Those damn Russian water tentacles sneakin' around again.

ALERT SLASHDOT (5, Funny)

Stephen Tennant (936097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470578)

Activate tearducts and proceed with robot mourning routine!

Big Bloop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31470650)

Isn't this the same area that the "Big Bloop" was supposedly triangulated to?

So long... (4, Funny)

idji (984038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470670)

and thanks for all the fish!

Similar to Super Kamiokande (1)

alanw (1822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470720)

An implosion, ... would have caused all of ABE’s other spheres to implode

It's just the same as the way as a chain reaction at the Super Kamiokande neutrino observatory destroyed thousands of its photo-multiplier tubes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super-Kamiokande [wikipedia.org]

Occam's Razor (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31470724)

A cron job didn't run.



(Posted at 03:47 GMT-6 14 March 2010)

long running...... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471004)

Hmmmm....Maybe it just ran away....

Last message was ominous... (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471032)

...something about "Should a man keep the sweat of his brow..."

Maybe it saw something it shouldn't (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471322)

With the increasing capability of these things being able to explore more and more of the ocean's depths, they might be stumbling upon things certain people/governments don't want them too.

How 'bout the wreck of the Thresher (U.S. Nuclear powered submarine), or the Soviet nuclear sub that the Glomar Challenger tried to bring up (under cover as a geo-physics expedition run by Howard Hughes). I believe the Soviet sub had nuclear weapons on board (either as torpedos or missiles, maybe mines).

I think there may be a few nukes that were accidentally lost (there was a B-52 that dropped four of them off of the coast of Spain I think). The respective governments "claimed" to have recovered them. There's also tons of wadiowactive waste (sorry just saw Chekov in Star Trek) that Russia has dumped into the oceans; might make for a good "dirty" bomb.

My favorite is the jettisoned lunar module that the Apollo 13 crew used as a lifeboat to get them back to earth. One of its science experiments used plutonium. Shortly before re-entry it was released so that it would crash into the ocean in the Mariana's Trench. (I suppose the plutonium container was designed to survive re-entry amongst other things in case of a catastrophic accident during launch). Well now the Japanese have a R.O.V. capable of diving even there, the deepest place on the planet.

So these are just the things we know about. Maybe there was something poor ABE ran into that was someone didn't want uncovered. To keep their secrets safe would it be easy to put a mine that would be triggered by the rover's bright lights or sonar pings? Might be a lot cheaper than trying to haul up say an entire nuclear sub.

Re:Maybe it saw something it shouldn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31471380)

(I suppose the plutonium container was designed to survive re-entry amongst other things in case of a catastrophic accident during launch). Well now the Japanese have a R.O.V. capable of diving even there, the deepest place on the planet.

So these are just the things we know about. Maybe there was something poor ABE ran into that was someone didn't want uncovered. To keep their secrets safe would it be easy to put a mine that would be triggered by the rover's bright lights or sonar pings? Might be a lot cheaper than trying to haul up say an entire nuclear sub.

I doubt the cost of recovering plutonium that is decades old from one of the deepest places on the planet is cheaper than simply generating a much higher quality specimen in a reactor you already own.

Re:Maybe it saw something it shouldn't (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31472320)

I didn't say that the powers that be would try to recover their plutonium, just that they would want to prevent some other party from picking it and other items of interest from the sea floor. Like (in the case of a sunken nuclear sub) fully intact nuclear warheads/missiles with guidance mechanisms, code books, various nuclear attack plans. I would think that these items could be of enormous strategic utility.

Re:Maybe it saw something it shouldn't (3, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471476)

And maybe, just maybe, one of the glass flotation spheres had a flaw in it and it imploded, like they said.

Re:Maybe it saw something it shouldn't (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31472334)

Of course it's most likely there was a (natural) accident. But if another is sent down and it mysteriously "disappears" in the same spot... let the conspiracy theories fly!

Benthic Explorer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31471340)

Isn't that a vehicle from James Cameron's "The Abyss"?

ABE had Enterprise starship reg number NCC-1701B (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31471408)

Well there are many sad to see it go but it did a lot of great research. WHOI has a few more autonomous underwater robots - check out whoi.edu. BTW since the design of ABE was shaped like the Enterprise from Star Trek it had a registration number of NCC-1701B on its side - WHOI engineers are Trekkies too. My company is a videography contractor for WHOI.

To Go Where No Robot Has Gone Before? (1)

chach17 (1767086) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471602)

I couldn't help to notice the similarities in this robot's design to the Starship Enterprise. As I looked closer it appears that somebody else had the same thought - the serial number on the robot is "NCC-1701B"!

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31471688)

How much did ABE cost? Is it worth a dive by another submersible to reacquire? Or is (was) it so autonomous that WHOI doesn't have a clear enough track to search from?

What really happened... (1)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471820)

It became self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time.

Maybe it found something better (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31471880)

Could be a robot amusement park down there. With blackjack. And hookers.

Cthulhu (1)

Decessus (835669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31472440)

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn
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