MOREHEAD CITY, CARTERET COUNTY -

A Carteret County native has spent the past 16 years exploring the depths of the ocean with underwater robots. This week, he is back in town to test out his latest round of software at portside marina in Morehead City

Ben Kinnaman works in Vermont, but grew up in Beaufort.  Kinnaman is the President of Greensea Systems. This company doesn't make underwater robots but does make the software that controls what a robot will do once it is underwater.  He says underwater robots are used frequently across the globe.

“Small vehicles like what we are testing today are used by first responders, coast guard, US Navy, and search and rescue operations.” says Kinnaman.

Robots can dive much deeper and stay submerged longer than humans can.

In the past, he has used robots like this one to dive for treasure, look for lost ships, and even to research the Titanic. He says underwater robots utilizing programs like his will likely be used to search for debris from Malaysian Flight 370.

“It’s very deep, well out of the reach of divers, so the only way they would be able to do an effective salvage is to use robots.” says Kinnaman.

Kinnaman attended East Carteret High School in Beaufort. He was awarded the Michael Smith Scholarship, named after the local astronaut who died in the Challenger Space Shuttle.

Kinnaman has helped program robots with missions to uncover treasure, research the Titanic, and recover pieces of the Columbia Space shuttle.