SYDNEY, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- A new autonomous submarine, developed by Australian company UAM Tec, is set to change the way people interact with the underwater environment, creating realistic 3D images of the bottom of the ocean more cheaply and efficiently than ever before.
Unveiled at tech and business conference CEBIT in Sydney on Tuesday, UAM Tec's "Sub Mapping" technology is the first fully autonomous and visual-based mapping submarine to exist in the world.
Billed as the underwater equivalent of Google Maps Street View, the roughly one-meter long, football-shaped submarine's inventors hope one day to create immersive visual representations of what lies beneath vast swathes of the world's oceans, lakes, and waterways.
"We want to release the 360 stitched images over a map and let people basically walk around underwater," UAM Tec co-founder and CEO Shawn Taylor told Xinhua.
The units are capable of operating in what the creators call swarms, where multiple subs are synched together to cover more of the ocean floor in less time.
Travelling to depths of around 2 km, the autonomous submarine is expected to open up a range of possibilities in infrastructure and development, search and rescue missions, such as locating lost planes and ships, and in scientific research.
"We've brought in a lot of people and they all give us new uses," Taylor said.
"The latest one was pollution tracking, which is very, very difficult, but ours could do it quite easily, actually - so I think there's going to be more uses than we can conceive right now."
The lithium battery-powered subs can operate autonomously for around 40 hours before automatically returning themselves to base where the information they collect is uploaded and used to bring the underwater world, to the surface.