As oil and gas companies wander ever further offshore in search of fossil fuels, the government's putting some money into technology that safeguards against oil spills. The amount they’re spending — $9.6 million — is a paltry sum as federal investments go. But the important thing here is the result, which is robots. And not just robots, but cool underwater robots that have 3D laser vision more accurate than any diver's analysis.

Ok, actually, that's just one project. The rest of the funding is going to technology like "reverse-circulation primary cementing," which reduces pressure in deepwater wells, and "coil tubing drilling and intervention system" that could inspect wells. None of which is going to change the fact that ultra-deepwater drilling is never going to be exactly good for the environment. But with the robots, at least you get robots.

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