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The British autonomous submarine famously nicknamed “Boaty McBoatface”- a title that was famously voted upon, is preparing to embark on its first mission. The underwater autonomous vehicle (UAV) is going to launch in Antarctica, where it will follow oceanic currents through the Southern Ocean. Boaty will endure conditions like subzero temperatures and navigate through feats like underwater waterfalls and rapids on its mission, which is expected to last two months. 

Researchers hope the data collected will help improve their understanding of global warming’s effects on the world’s oceans. The autonomous submarine will transmit the data it collects to researchers via radio link by ascending to the surface, which it can’t do in the deep depths of the isolated oceanic regions the unmanned craft will be traversing. 

“One of the most surprising features of the climate change that we are currently experiencing is that the abyssal waters of the world’s oceans have been warming steadily over the last few decades. Establishing the causes of this warming is important because the warming plays an important role in moderating the ongoing (and likely future) increases in atmospheric temperature and sea level around the globe,” says Alberto Naveira Garabato of the University of Southampton, who is in charge of Boaty’s Antarctic expedition. 

Boaty McBoatface will depart from Punta Arenas, Chile this Friday, and head towards the Southern Ocean. The cost of the project is expected to be about 200 million pounds, which translates to about $240 million. The underwater vessel was built in Liverpool, England and was originally expected to become usable by 2019, but was finished well ahead of schedule. 

Apparently, the capabilities for Boaty McBoatface are higher than the conditions of its current mission. The unmanned autonomous submarine is capable of going on missions lasting for several months, and is capable of traveling to depths up to three and a half miles (17,600 feet). Researchers hope to one day measure seabed properties on an oceanic scale using Boaty’s traveling capabilities. 

The unmanned autonomous submarine can travel under miles of thick ocean ice, which according to the British National Oceanography Center, make Boaty McBoatface a viable candidate to become the first successful underwater craft at making a fully submerged crossing of the Arctic Ocean under the regions dense layers of oceanic ice.

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