ROV technology has developed a lot in recent years, and advancements are necessary to keep improving the work that these units can accomplish. The Schmidt Ocean Institute is attempting to update the design of the diving robot it uses to allow deeper access to areas of the ocean without incident.
In May of this year, the Nereus ROV imploded while exploring the Kermadec Trench off the coast of New Zealand after it proved incapable of withstanding the deep-sea pressure nearly 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) underwater.
Now, Victor Zykov, the SOI's director of research, told New Scientist that they are at work on a reinforced model that will survive in the high-depth "hadal zone" (areas more than 3.5 miles). The Nereus was the only internationally available vehicle that could do that.
Zykov describes both the protective measures being taken to increase the new unit's endurance and the additional systems that will enhance its usefulness to science teams.
"For buoyancy, instead of ceramics or hollow glass spheres we plan to use an advanced material called syntactic foam – an epoxy resin with tiny hollow glass microspheres in it," he said. He added that "We are also installing 3D video so that the pilot can perceive depth of image, too. We believe this will provide the operators with the best possible illusion of being in the deep ocean – without exposing them to the great risks of diving to hadal depths."
Most scientists are aware of the dangers ROVs are subject to, but preventing total destruction of a unit requires improved safety. Along with this, all users should purchase ROV insurance that pertains to the level of depths the unit will deploy to.