Made in Massachusetts: Cape Company Makes Underwater Vehicles to - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Made in Massachusetts: Cape Company Makes Underwater Vehicles to Make Ocean Discoveries


Underwater, the Remus does what man on the surface can not. Getting an up close look at what lies in the darkest fathoms at the bottom of the world’s oceans.

“I don’t think we charted less than one percent of the bottom of the ocean, so it’s not uncommon for people, even though it’s a big place, for people to find something new when they’re out there,” says Christopher von Alt, President of Hydroid.

The un-manned underwater vehicles, named Remus, have roamed the ocean’s floor all over the globe. They are made here in Massachusetts, on the Cape, in Pocasset.

Von Alt developed the technology at a lab at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, before founding Hydroid. The idea was to make a small, man-portable machine, that could do what traditional underwater research methods could not.

“All the research in the past was always done under a cable, using a long cable to connect, whatever your sensor was to a ship on the surface, and that ship had to drag this sensor along with this cable hanging onto it through the ocean, which when you go very deep in the ocean, gets very long, so it can’t move very fast, and if you try to turn it around, it takes a long time,” von Alt says.

Time is essential, especially when it came to Air France Flight 447. The flight went down in the middle of the ocean, somewhere between South America and Africa in June of 2009. 228 passengers were lost. After two years, and $25 million dollars spent searching for the wreckage, in April of this year, the French government brought in three Remus 6000’s, the largest of Hydroid’s fleet.

On board, the vehicle’s route is mapped out on a computer, and the Remus is launched. It then takes sonar images of the sea floor, and when something unusual is picked up, the Remus is sent down again to take pictures.

When the images were downloaded, it revealed that the Remus had found the plane, bringing back images of the flight data recorder, and engine. “I think you could ask the families of anyone who was lost on Flight 447 that, it’s very important,” von Alt says.

The Remus comes in different sizes, ranging from the 100, which weighs less than a sack of concrete, the big boy in the fleet, the 6000. “The technology has a desire throughout the world, so we’re actually a company that’s in the United States, that’s high tech, that’s exporting technology throughout the world. And we’re creating jobs,” von Alt says.

The vehicles have been purchased by everyone from foreign navies, to wealthy individuals, and have been used to do everything from catalog what has been taken from the Titanic’s shipwreck, and even to search for Amelia Earhart’s plane. Recently the Royal Netherland’s Navy used a Remus to find a German UBoat that went down in World War I.

“If you added up all the hours they’ve logged underwater, I think they’ve gone around once or twice,” von Alt says. From Pocasset in Bourne, to the Pacific, and beyond, Hydroid is hoping the Remus will help us learn more about the vast mysteries of the deep.

Learn more on their official site:

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