By Andy Choi
Troubled by invasions from Somali pirates, international scientists are seeking help from Australian and U.S navies for deploying 19 robots in the Indian Ocean for collecting important data pertaining to climate and monsoon.
According to Ann Threhser, these robots would be deployed in the ocean in the next six months. Threhser is the lead scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia's national science agency. She mentioned this as a significant program for monitoring climatic changes in the ocean in a press release. The floating robots would collect critical data that can be used for forecasting monsoon and rainfall in Australia and South Asia. The robots are 2 m in length and are programmed to drift 1,000 yd in 10 days and then fall 1.5 m into the ocean to collect data. After collecting data, these robots rise above the water level and transmit the data to satellites.
The climate and monsoon systems that are responsible for bringing rain to Australia are driven by the heat and salinity patterns. The robots provide live observations of these two parameters. The deployment of robots is dependent on commercial shipping and chartered vessels. Threhser mentioned that scientists have not been able to deploy robots for about a quarter of the Indian Ocean’s area due to pirate threat present there. The reporting centre of the International Maritime Bureau has reported that 61% of pirate attacks are carried out by the Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The hijacking of ships by pirates has reduced considerably, due to the increased vigilance on ships by navies. Australia has deployed over 300 robots as part of the multinational program for reporting data to the international data centres from the Indian, Southern, Pacific Oceans and the Tasman Sea. Apart from robots, Australia has a chartered South African yatch which has deployed seven science robots near Mauritius. It has plans of deploying another 15 instruments between Mauritius and Fremantle in Australia.