Roboshark: Remus 100 “Sharkbot” Tails Great Whites Off Cape Cod

Woods Hole’s scientists get up close and personal with the great white shark.

This sleek, seven-and-a-half-foot shark-stalking machine, built by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and known to friends as the REMUS 100, is designed to tail sharks and other creatures as they swim through the murky waters around Cape Cod. Sophisticated software allows it to react to the animals’ movements, while GoPro cameras let it get paparazzi-quality shots. Offshore, sharks sometimes dive as deep as 3,000 feet, but so far the sharkbot hasn’t followed them down. “We don’t know what they’re doing there,” says Greg Skomal, a senior biologist at the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries. At some point, Skomal plans to send the ’bot down after them to find out. “That,” he says, “would be pretty cool.”

remus-100-sharkbot

Photograph by Nick Caloyianis

1. Custom Software

The ’bot’s programming lets it make navigational decisions when trailing a shark, while also recording data about the water around it: depth, salinity, temperature, and more.

2. GPS 

Lets the ’bot gets a fix on its own position, but doesn’t work underwater, so the ’bot has to come up for “air” to find out where it is.

3. GoPro Cameras

Provided by Discovery Channel and Big Wave Productions, these have allowed scientists to film the predators’ private lives. Footage shot last summer will air during Discovery’s Shark Week, which begins August 4.

4. Acoustic Receiver

Picks up a signal from the shark’s tag after it is “pinged” by the transducer, telling the ’bot where the shark is and where it’s headed.

5. Acoustic Transducer

Sends out a sonic “ping” to a tag previously placed on the shark’s dorsal fin.

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