An underwater drone is to be deployed into the Indian Ocean as the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 continues.
The Bluefin-21 drone will scour the ocean floor in an attempt to located wreckage of the aircraft, which disappeared on 8 March.
In comments reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, former Australian Defence chief Angus Houston said: “The deployment of the autonomous underwater vehicle has the potential to take us a further step towards visual identification, since it offers a possible opportunity to detect debris from the aircraft on the ocean floor.”
The Bluefin-21 underwater drone (pictured here after successful buoyancy testing on 1 April can travel to a depth of 4,500m
The drone uses a side-scan sonar and its first 24-hour mission will commence on Monday evening.
It will cover an area of 40 square kilometres at a depth of 4,500 metres, though Houston cautioned: “It may be very difficult to find something.”
The robotic submarine's first mission will commence on Monday evening
He also revealed an oil slick had been detected in the search area and that a sample has been collected for analysis.
The flight, bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had 239 people on board.
Electronic signals consistent with transmissions from a black box were recorded in the area last week but none have been heard since, leading to speculation the battery has expired.