July 6th, 2010
10:49 AM ET

Deep-sea mysteries: Why drilling in 'inner space' tests human limits

John D. Sutter

Behind each video feed of oil billowing out of the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico is a robot about the size of a minibus built at an industrial center in this Louisiana oil town.

The robots, which go by the name Millennium, are constructed as if they're on a voyage to another world - one that's "harsher than space," says Mark Campbell, the manufacturing manager at Oceaneering International's production site.

This may come as a surprise since the oil cam produces images so clear they look like they could have been filmed at the bottom of a neighborhood pool. But keep in mind that these robots - which hover like confused cuttlefish in front of the busted pipe 24 hours a day - navigate a world that's 5,000 feet below the surface of the ocean.

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Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill
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