The underwater robot HYBIS on deck of the RV METEOR. Photo: Emanuel Wenzlaff/GEOMAR

Image of the month: September 2017

Heavy transport with a deep-sea robot

How do you bring 700 kilograms of rock samples from the bottom of the sea to the water surface? That is no problem for the diving robot HYBIS. The robot is a weightlifter, who owes its talent to the control by a fiberglass cable connected to the research vessel.

Control of the submerged depth of HYBIS, as well as the process of diving into the ocean and ascending to the surface of the water is directly steered with a steel wire, which is connected with a crane on the research vessel. Thus, a buoyancy aid is superfluous and it is possible for HYBIS to carry rock samples to the water surface from a maximum of 6000 -meters water depth.

Weight lifting is not the only discipline the deep-sea robot masters perfectly: HYBIS is an all-rounder on account of its modular construction as steering, energy supply, cameras, light, hydraulics and telemetry are all in the main module. Depending on scientific requirements, further modules can be installed. A gripper with an extendable sample container, a module to deploy an Ocean Bottom Seismometer (OBS), a rope winch as well as an hydraulic gripper jaw, a sort of excavator shovel,  are also available.

Since 2013, the robot belongs to the deep-sea fleet of GEOMAR. The diving robot was developed by the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, England and Hydro-Lek Ltd. and is construction number 2 after the prototype.

Since then the camera systems of the robot have seen a lot of the deep-sea regions of our planet, including the deepest hydrothermal vents of the world in the Caribbean Sea at 5100 -meters water depth. In 2015, researchers examined a vast hydrothermal field and took samples with HYBIS in the Gulf of California. HYBIS therefore enabled answers to be found for questions about the impact that hydrothermal vents have on the global climate.

 

More information:

http://www.geomar.de/en/research/fb4/fb4-gdy/infrastructure/hybis/

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The gripper of HYBIS is still in a container. Photo: Jan Steffen/GEOMAR

The gripper of HYBIS is still in a container. Photo: Jan Steffen/GEOMAR

A cross-section of an massive sulphide sample of a Black Smoker. Photo: GEOMAR

A cross-section of an massive sulphide sample of a Black Smoker. Photo: GEOMAR

HYBIS is being launched. Photo: GEOMAR

HYBIS is being launched. Photo: GEOMAR