Hi-tech robots search ocean floor for ancient shipwrecks

By Laura Allsop - CNN

Once lost to the deep, shipwrecks lying on the ocean floor are now accessible thanks to cutting-edge submersibles.

Autonomous and remotely operated vehicles are capable of trawling the ocean floor at depths of up to 6,000 meters, to document ancient and recent shipwrecks, and recover key objects.

"RMS Titanic" is the most famous shipwreck to be visited by these vehicles. A recent expedition brought back images documenting the current state of the ship, nearly 100 years after it sank following a collision with an iceberg.

Impressive 3D-HD images of the ship's bow show it looking relatively intact, though seemingly dripping with eerie stalactites created by rust-eating microbes.

Alex Klingelhofer is the Vice President of Collections at Premier Exhibitions, Inc., which puts on exhibitions such as "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition," currently on at the O2 Centre in London.

It is also the parent company of RMS Titanic, Inc., which has exclusive recovery rights to "Titanic."

Klingelhofer told CNN that the primary goal of the recent expedition was to "map the wreck, and recover as much information as possible, so that we could really examine what the 'Titanic' site is."

She continued: "A lot of the scientific information and imagery that we recovered during this expedition will be compared with what we already have from previous expeditions, and hopefully we will arrive at some sort of guess-timation of its condition."

The plan to digitally map the ship is part of a virtual preservation project that Klingelhofer hopes will protect the ship for future generations.

Though famous, "Titanic" is not alone; the ocean floor is littered with wrecks that are frequently visited by submersible robots.



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