ExxonMobil and MIT Spearheading AI Ocean ExplorationShawn Martin | February 01, 2018
Scientists that helped design artificial-intelligence software that makes NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover “curious” are developing similar applications for self-learning, submersible robots used in ocean exploration.
The investment in artificially intelligent robotics by ExxonMobil is a displays the company's innovative thought processes and willingness to pioneer the science of natural seep detection and characterization.
Operators engaged in the exploration of strange anomalies across the ocean floor will be able to analyze data, stay out of harm’s way and identify novel solutions with a robot that is equipped with the ability to learn from its own mistakes and make logical corrections. Albeit slow moving and quiet, these robots will be designed to navigate and operate a safe distance above the ocean floor, safeguarding the ecosystems as they detect and analyze naturally seeping hydrocarbons.
ExxonMobil’s ongoing collaboration with MIT to explore adjacent technologies typically found outside the realm of ExxonMobil’s core energy business is beneficial to both parties. ExxonMobil funds research on a wide range of projects and provides access to technical personnel, while MIT’s Energy Initiative establishes 10 ExxonMobil Energy Fellows per year as they pursue research with the goal of alerting the team to real-world problems and opportunities for progress.
Lori Summa, ExxonMobil’s former primary investigator on the MIT submersible robot project stated, “Students are curious about how their research will have an impact in the world. And we’re curious about new innovations that can push the envelope of energy research to meet the challenges of the future.”