Tagged With remotely operated underwater vehicles

In 2009, Kerry McPhail descended Jacques Cousteau-style towards the Axial Volcano, inside the cramped, 30-year-old little submarine DSV Alvin, with a pilot and another scientist. Four hundred and eighty kilometres off the coast of Oregon, they were collecting tubeworms, bacterial mats and bivalves living near a deep sea volcanic vent. These samples could potentially yield new pharmaceutical compounds -- and in turn, new chemical cures and desperately needed antibiotics that are yet undiscovered.

We know very little about our planet's seafloor, but that's poised to change as autonomous underwater scouting technology gets better and better. To that end, nearly two dozen teams are racing to develop robots that can investigate, map and conduct science at extreme depths, and under serious time constraints. They're also competing for $US7 million ($9 million) in prize money.