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giant underwater robot investigates Noah (film at 11)

No, really, a team has been investigating a small settlement in (330 ft. under) the Black Sea, in an effort to date its flooding (and um, Noah's efforts on behalf of the maritime industry) -- and they used a giant robot:

Ballard heralded the work of Hercules, an underwater excavator that was used for the first time.

The 7-foot robot gingerly dug around the deep-water ruins and retrieved artifacts using pincers outfitted with sensors that regulated the pressure they exerted - much like a human hand.

Fredrik Hiebert, an archaeology fellow at National Geographic, said the mechanical excavator's success ushers in a new era in ocean archaeology.

'We now have the technical capabilities to excavate scientifically in underwater environments,' the former University of Pennsylvania professor said. 'We've moved beyond the grab and look part of (underwater) archaeology.'

The results of Hercules' efforts were, unfortunately, inconclusive.


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