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NRI's SeaBED making waves

The robotic underwater vehicle created by Hanumant has made a stunning discovery, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 05:14 IST
S Rajagopalan
S Rajagopalan

Meet Hanumant Singh, the latest Indian American newsmaker. His creation — SeaBED, a robotic underwater vehicle — has taken stunning images of a fourth century BC shipwreck in the Aegean Sea, off Chios, Greece.

The vehicle has revealed a cache of 400 ceramic jars that went down with the merchant ship, a discovery that has excited Greek marine archaeologists, who believe the jars probably contained wine and olive oil.

The vehicle deployed by Singh’s team took 7,650 images to reveal the ship’s cargo and marine life in just two days — something that would have taken researchers years with conventional SCUBA divers.

Singh, 39, hails from Chandigarh. He went to graduate school at MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts from where he received his PhD. He is currently an associate scientist with professor’s rank at Woods Hole.

Woods Hole is a leader in developing and building submersible robot vehicles, including the ARGO vehicle that found the wrecks of the Titanic and Bismarck.

Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Singh attributed his interest in oceanography to “years spent in sailing and rowing in (Chandigarh’s) Sukhna Lake” and a summer internship at Woods Hole. He has been out to sea on 30 underwater imaging expeditions.

On the significance of SeaBED, he says: “By using this technology, diving archaeologists will be freed from routine measuring and sketching tasks. They can instead concentrate on the things people do better than robots: excavation and data interpretation.”

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 04:04 IST