How cheap robots are transforming ocean exploration

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Backed by billionaire philanthropists and Silicon Valley venture capitalists, a wave of entrepreneurs are developing high-tech, low-cost technologies to probe the watery realms we still barely understand. Are the oceans finally getting their moon-shot moment?

The robot was born out of a treasure hunt.

It all started in 2010, when Eric Stackpole was a promising young engineer designing satellite technology as an intern at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He was simultaneously working toward a master’s degree at nearby Santa Clara University and was prone to procrastinating. Lately, he’d become taken with the idea of building his own underwater robot.

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