Kevin Hardy: Building Ocean Explorers

Ocean engineer Kevin Hardy’s creations plumb the depths of the Mariana Trench

4 min read
Photo of Kevin Hardy.
Photo: Roxie J. Cirino

With the boat surging over ocean swells, a soaked and smudged Kevin Hardy reaches over the side and yanks a tether, freeing a 3-meter-long submersible. It sinks quickly into the waves—first the iron weight, then the long tubes that will collect water samples, and finally the bright orange spheres that protect its electronics. Hardy's latest oceanic probe is starting a 10.6-kilometer (6.6‑mile) journey to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot on planet Earth. The probe will fall for 3 hours to reach that mysterious seafloor.

Exuberant and ruddy-faced, Hardy wipes the salty spray out of his eyes and shakes hands with the crew members. It has been a grueling day. Embarking from Guam in the early morning on a small former ferryboat, the team motored 130 km out to sea, rocked by high waves that caused a few of the scientists to go green around the edges. They reached a part of the trench called the Sirena Deep as the sun began to set and readied their equipment for the big plunge. The boat's depth finder, overwhelmed by the abyss beneath the hull, displays an absurd depth reading of only 8.5 meters.

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Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
A teleoperated humanoid robot torso stands in a kitchen assembling a turkey sandwich from ingredients on a tray

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!

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New AI Speeds Computer Graphics by Up to 5x

Neural rendering harnesses machine learning to paint pixels

5 min read
Four examples of Nvidia's Instant NeRF 2D-to-3D machine learning model placed side-by-side.

Nvidia Instant NeRF uses neural rendering to generate 3D visuals from 2D images.


On 20 September, Nvidia’s Vice President of Applied Deep Learning, Bryan Cantanzaro, went to Twitter with a bold claim: In certain GPU-heavy games, like the classic first-person platformer Portal, seven out of eight pixels on the screen are generated by a new machine-learning algorithm. That’s enough, he said, to accelerate rendering by up to 5x.

This impressive feat is currently limited to a few dozen 3D games, but it’s a hint at the gains neural rendering will soon deliver. The technique will unlock new potential in everyday consumer electronics.

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Get the Coursera Campus Skills Report 2022

Download the report to learn which job skills students need to build high-growth careers

1 min read

Get comprehensive insights into higher education skill trends based on data from 3.8M registered learners on Coursera, and learn clear steps you can take to ensure your institution's engineering curriculum is aligned with the needs of the current and future job market. Download the report now!