The Benthic Rover II is the size of a compact car, although it rocks fat treads, making it more like a scientific tank. That, along with the two googly-eye-like flotation devices on its front, gives it a sort of WALL-E vibe. Only instead of exploring a garbage-strewn landscape, BR-II roams the Pacific seafloor, 13,000 feet deep. The robot’s mission: To prowl the squishy terrain in search of clues about how the deep ocean processes carbon.
That mission begins with a wild ride, 180 miles off the coast of Southern California. Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute lower BR-II into the water and then … drop it. Completely untethered,
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