Students take a virtual field trip underwater

Published: Mar. 5, 2009 at 5:28 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 5, 2009 at 6:16 PM HST
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Justin Eskesen
Justin Eskesen

By Tracy Gladden - bio | email

KANEOHE (KHNL) - High school students from Myron B. Thompson Academy learn about Hawaii's endangered coral reefs using cutting edge technology. Taking a virtual field trip to one of Hawaii's coral reefs, these students come face to face with Hawaii's endangered reefs without even getting wet. It's all because of an autonomous underwater vehicle or AUV.

"Communication is often a problem with underwater vehicles because you can't use radio waves underwater so they have to drive themselves," software engineer Justin Eskesen said.

To see how the Earth's oceans are being affected by global warming, the students use the help of the AUV. While it's driving itself, Eskesen uses a remote to focus on specific location.

"It's a great way to move around the reef and check out things using it more of a wireless ROV as opposed to an AUV," he said.

Using this technology, the students take pictures and gather data to find any threats to the reef. "Take measurements of the water quality, the depth, the PH," Eskesen said.

It takes the measurements and then wires them back to the students in the classroom then, they make visual observations and classify the threats.

"They can interact with it in real time and see the different life that's in the coral reef as well as the different chemical readings that it's taking," he said.

Eskesen hopes the robot's technology will inspire a whole new generation of scientists.