I knew little about subsea engineering until I met Team Tao – a team of engineers from Soil Machine Dynamics and Newcastle University. Turns out, we know very little about the things below water when it comes to the deep sea, and there is much more to explore. But there’s a catch…We don’t really have the technology to do it in a very efficient way…yet.
I had the pleasure of visiting Team Tao at Tyne Subsea in Wallsend, which operates one of the largest hyperbaric chambers in the world. Basically, it’s a really cool massive bit of kit capable of testing things at extremely high pressures – simulating water depths of 15,000m!
I had the privilege of interviewing Dr HK Chang who showed me around the facility and introduced me to prototypes of the subsea drones Team Tao developed for the Ocean Discovery X Prize. I also spoke with Jeff Neasham who has developed a unique type of sonar that doesn’t harm marine life, which they employed for their novel subsea drone technology.
Needless to say, the competition for the X Prize was fierce, and while they didn’t win the final, they were recognised for their innovative design and given the Moonshot Award worth $200,000 — a great achievement.
The latest #writerinthelab podcast gives some insight into how Team Tao developed their innovative subsea drone technology and what it was like to compete in the finals for the Ocean Discovery X Prize. I hope you enjoy it.