In locations such as Greenland, lighting makes it difficult to capture images of big, shiny, and mostly white ice against a bright backdrop. That’s also a difficult environment to capture when it’s cloudy and dark: Cameras struggle to distinguish between the colors of an iceberg and the grey blends of the sky. And then there’s everything else in the field of view.

“You’re in a fjord, so you have all these sites and these pieces in the water that we want to completely ignore,” Singh says.

Not to mention how dangerous it is to be near an iceberg.

For decades, researchers have struggled to get up close and personal with icebergs. These ice formations can be several times bigger than a large parking garage, and have protruding ice above and under the water that can be dangerous if the iceberg capsizes or breaks.

That’s the whole point of using clever, but relatively cheap drones, Singh says. Robots are expendable, and they can sometimes take risks that people can’t.

“You don’t want a human being standing right next to this thing on a small boat, taking measurements,” he says. “If you’re anywhere near there, and this thing overturns, it’s going to take you with it.”

Singh says that understanding climate change is one the best things his robots can do. That includes a list of campaigns that have studied environments such as coral reefs and archeological sites underwater. Next, it could be comets and asteroids moving in the expanse of outer space.

“We’re not engineers for just engineering’s sake,” Singh says. “We also really care about bigger-picture issues, how all that works, and telling those stories to the general public. That’s what we’re about.”

For media inquiries, please contact Shannon Nargi at or 617-373-5718.