The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | February 10, 2006

Robotics Institute Seminar, February 10, 2006
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

Exploring the Deepest Depths: Development of a Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicle for Oceanographic Operations to 11,000m Depth

Louis Whitcomb

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Johns Hopkins University

Adjunct Scientist

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution






Time and Place

Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305)
Refreshments 3:15 pm
Talk 3:30 pm


This talk reports an effort at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to develop an operational underwater vehicle capable of performing scientific survey and sampling to the full depth of the ocean (11,000 meters). The project leadership team includes the speaker, WHOI’s Dr. Dana Yoerger and Andrew Bowen, and researchers from the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. The vehicle, called a hybrid remotely operated vehicle (HROV), will operate in two different modes. For broad area survey, the vehicle will operate untethered as an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) capable of exploring and mapping the seafloor with sonars and cameras.  For sampling and intervention, the vehicle will operate as a tethered remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The ROV configuration will incorporate a lightweight fiber optic tether to the surface for high bandwidth real-time video and data telemetry to the surface to enable high-quality teleoperation, additional cameras and lights, a manipulator arm, and sampling gear.  This talk outlines the scientific motivation for the project and feasibility of our design concept.  An overall vehicle design is also presented, including pressure housings and buoyancy materials. 

The HROV project is supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Speaker Biography

Louis L. Whitcomb completed a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1984 and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1992, both at Yale University.  From 1984 to 1986 he was a R&D engineer with the GMFanuc Robotics Corporation in Detroit, Michigan. After post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Tokyo and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. He is presently Professor of Mechanical Engineering at JHU, with joint appointment in the Department of Computer Science, and is an Adjunct Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Speaker Appointments

For appointments, please contact Stephanie Matvey (

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.