The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Just Received a $5 Million Grant to Expand Its Robotics Research Program

by Owen James Burke

whoi

Photo: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Massachusetts state officials gathered on Friday to announce that a $5 million dollar grant will be awarded to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) so that they may expand their underwater robotics research program, which began with the clunky bathyscaphe Trieste in 1956 and the HOV (human-occupied vehicle) Alvin, whose legendary research began over 50 years ago and is still a proud and active member of the WHOI fleet.

Unlike NASA’s outer space research program, The United States’ oceanographic research institutions don’t receive a tremendous amount of funding. This is a big feat for Woods Hole, and a tremendous progress into the future of ocean research. More funding like this and it’s anyone’s guess what’s next, but surely we’ll begin to see the colossally unexplored ninety-some-odd percent of the seas in unprecedented fashion.

The grant will be applied to WHOI’s Center for Marine Robotics for new pressurized deep-sea robot test tanks, and a 3-D printer for prototyping new parts for machines. Some funding will also go into developing an offshore test-site off Martha’s Vineyard, but the institution’s main aspiration for the funding is to bring testing to shore so that extensive time and funding are not spent chartering offshore simply for practical procedures. “A lot of the tests you’d do at sea, we’re trying to bring those to shore to a very local and easy-to-access test facility,” James Bellingham, the Center’s director told Beta Boston.

Read more at Beta Boston — OJB

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