“Nereus was an amazing, groundbreaking robot and the only currently active vehicle in the world that could reach the extreme depths of the ocean trenches,” wrote explorer and filmmaker James Cameron, upon hearing the news that Nereus was lost at sea on May 10, 2014. On a mission to explore the Kermadec Trench northeast of New Zealand, scientists lost contact with the vehicle at a depth of 9,990 meters (6.2 miles), and believe it imploded. The Institution received many condolences from fellow ocean scientists and explorers expressing feelings such as “I feel like I’ve lost a friend.”
Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE)
The Autonomous Benthic Explorer, affectionately known as ABE, was one of the first successful submersible vehicles that was both unmanned and untethered to surface ships. First launched in 1995, ABE helped to herald a new kind of deep-submergence vehicle — the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) — and revolutionized deep-sea exploration by expanding scientists’ abilities to reach into the deep. The pioneering deep-sea exploration robot was lost at sea on March 5, 2010, during a research expedition off the coast of Chile. Learn more about ABE’s history and last mission.