SEATTLE - Tiny robots are about to go to work to check out Seattle's rotting seawall.
OceanGate, an Everett company, is working with the University of Washington to get a closer look at how to make a new wall eco-friendly.
Craig Thorngren is an ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) pilot and it's in a 16-foot deep test tank at UW where a company called OceanGate is gearing up to give scientists and engineers a closer look at the Seattle seawall.
The seawall makes transportation engineers nervous because in a big earthquake, the old wall is expected to collapse. This means a lot of the dirt that holds up the Viaduct and other structures could slump into the Puget Sound.
The ROV will help study how fish, particularly young salmon, react with the wall and with special habitat panels.
Science coordinator Elizabeth Keddy says an ROV has some advantages.
"The ROV is much smaller than a diver, and we've seen that some fish are actually attracted to the lights," she said. "The ROV can come in close, giving a first-hand view in great detail."
"We're creating expeditions to take non-scientists out to help with some of the field research they want done," said Guillermo Sohnlein, OceanGate co-founder.
But OceanGate says its mission is to make the underwater world a lot more accessible to everyone.
The company even acquired a submarine that was once owned by a Russian billionaire.
"Our plans are to go global, eventually, especially with the submarine, because once you get it moving, it's nice to take it to interesting places," he said.
Sohnline says he'd love to be an astronaut but his company is now busy exploring inner space.