The underwater swarm would coordinate with larger mothership drones as they move around and gauge the physics of ocean currents. Such information might allow researchers to scout out critical nursery habitats in protected marine areas, and might likewise lead salvage teams to recover the black boxes from airplane crash sites.
"You put 100 of these AUEs [Autonomous Underwater Explorers] in the ocean and let 'er rip," said Peter Franks, an oceanographer at Scripps. "We'll be able to look at how they spread apart and how they move to get a sense of the physics driving the flow."
More data gathered over time could also feed into better ocean models that try to capture the ocean weather and climate.
Scripps researchers first plan to build five or six prototypes the size of soccer balls, along with 20 smaller versions. They would join a growing fleet of underwater robots ranging from U.S. Navy submarine drones to ring-wing robots designed for oil exploration.
Why don't they incorporate the new carbon nanotube sponges into this design to help clean oil spills?
I think this $1 million is not much comparing to Haiti and now Chille disasters! Such robots can save human lives, hope it will work...