Underwater Drones Are On A Mission To Locate Missing Flight MH370January 4, 2018
On March 8, 2014, flight MH370 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members mysteriously disappeared. The plane’s disappearance resulted in the largest and most expensive multi-national search in aviation history.
The Malaysian aircraft was originally headed for Beijing, but suddenly changed course over the South China Sea and broke off radio contact. It was last detected by radar near Northern Sumatra, heading into the open ocean.
Almost four years later, eight submarine drones called HUGINs are on their way from the Port of Durban, in South Africa, into the deep ocean to search for the missing airplane.
The vessels, each 18 feet and 1,800 kilograms, are surrounded by titanium to guard against the atmospheric pressures of the water. Each HUGIN can dive as low as 6,000 metres and stay underwater for up to 60 hours.
According to The Economist, “Once underwater‚ the robot craft will communicate with a ship using an acoustic modem. The ship’s own modem‚ which will receive these signals‚ is fixed to the end of a long pole that extends down through her hull into the water.”
The drones will be searching an area of 25,000 kilometres that was chosen by investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). In the past, one HUGIN alone has been able to scan 890 square kilometres in one day. By using eight, the goal is to cover the area more quickly and efficiently than those that have previously tried searching for the plane.
Once the HUGINs complete their search and return to the ship, the data will be downloaded and analyzed by researchers. The main goal of the drones is to locate the plane’s flight recorder so the disappearance can be further explained.