(Woods Hole, Mass; 21 Dec 2014) Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will get $5 million from the state to build new facilities to test robotic vehicles for undersea research. Officials say the five-year grant will help speed the development and deployment of new and existing maritime robotic technology to explore the world’s oceans.

The use of so-called autonomous underwater vehicles is projected to grow by more than 40 percent over the next four years.

Woods Hole is partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other organizations on the research and broader use of undersea robots.

James Bellingham, director of Woods Hole’s Center for Marine Robotics, said Friday the goal is to “apply new robotic technologies to great science challenges of our age.”

The institution recently built a robot to dive beneath polar ice.