How a Plucky Robot Found Shackleton’s Endurance Shipwreck

Photograph: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust/National Geographic

Sabertooth’s tether makes it unlike other Antarctic ocean robots, which tend to be fully autonomous; scientists give them orders to explore a certain area on their own. (It’s similar to the reason why Mars rovers are autonomous. Signals take way too long to get back and forth from the Red Planet, and radar communications don’t penetrate seawater.) But Sabertooth is a hybrid robot, meaning that while it can autonomously roam the Antarctic seafloor, its operators can assume control as needed. That tether can’t provide power to the robot, since that would thicken the line and make it more prone to

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