Skip to main content

High-tech search for Malaysia Airlines passenger plane ends in disappointment

Ocean Infinity

The mystery of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 endures.

The latest privately funded search for the missing aircraft came to an end this week after more than four months spent scouring an area of interest in the southern Indian Ocean.

MH370 disappeared with 239 passengers and crew during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014. The cause of the Boeing 777’s disappearance is still unknown, and while several parts of the aircraft have shown up on several shorelines in the intervening years, the main section of the aircraft remains missing despite search efforts.

Ocean Infinity search

Keen for answers to the mystery, and to recover the bodies of the passengers and crew, the Malaysian government struck a deal with U.S. seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity at the start of 2018 to embark on a new exploration effort using its powerful search technology.

The onset of winter weather has brought the search to an end, with the company saying on Tuesday, May 29 that it had failed to find any sign of the aircraft.

During the course of the operation, Ocean Infinity searched more than 43,000 square miles (112,000 square km) of ocean floor using high-definition (HD) cameras.

“Part of our motivation for renewing the search was to try to provide some answers to those affected,” Ocean Infinity CEO Oliver Plunkett said in a statement. “It is therefore with a heavy heart that we end our current search without having achieved that aim.”

The CEO added that there “has not been a subsea search on this scale carried out as efficiently or as effectively ever before.”

Seabed search

Operating from its main multi-purpose ship, Ocean Infinity used a number of autonomous vehicles for its underwater searches, including six machines capable of operating at a depth of 6,000 meters while collecting HD imagery from even further down.

Six unmanned surface vehicles worked with the submersibles to help the team maintain precise positioning and constant communication during the meticulous seabed search.

This was the first time for Ocean Infinity to try to find a missing plane, though its experience in using its deep-sea technology for operations such as seabed mapping and imaging, marine geological surveys, and environmental monitoring provided it with valuable knowledge for its most ambitious project to date.

Previous efforts to track down the plane included a multinational search carried out by Malaysia, China, and Australia, but it was called off at the start of 2017 after failing to make any significant finds.

Such was Ocean Infinity’s confidence, it agreed to conduct its mission on a “no find, no fee” basis. It was set to receive as much as $70 million if it found MH370, but the Texas-based firm will now have to cover all of its costs.

But Plunkett hasn’t entirely given up on the idea of one day resuming the hunt for the missing plane, saying, “We sincerely hope that we will be able to again offer our services in the search for MH370 in [the] future.”

Relatives of those on board the fateful flight are continuing to press the Malaysian government to resume the search when better weather returns later in the year, though at the current time there are no plans to do so.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Digital Trends’ Top Tech of CES 2023 Awards
Best of CES 2023 Awards Our Top Tech from the Show Feature

Let there be no doubt: CES isn’t just alive in 2023; it’s thriving. Take one glance at the taxi gridlock outside the Las Vegas Convention Center and it’s evident that two quiet COVID years didn’t kill the world’s desire for an overcrowded in-person tech extravaganza -- they just built up a ravenous demand.

From VR to AI, eVTOLs and QD-OLED, the acronyms were flying and fresh technologies populated every corner of the show floor, and even the parking lot. So naturally, we poked, prodded, and tried on everything we could. They weren’t all revolutionary. But they didn’t have to be. We’ve watched enough waves of “game-changing” technologies that never quite arrive to know that sometimes it’s the little tweaks that really count.

Read more
Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2023 Awards
Digital Trends CES 2023 Tech For Change Award Winners Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world’s biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place — and at CES 2023, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from accessibility-minded PS5 controllers to pedal-powered smart desks. But of all the amazing innovations on display this year, these three impressed us the most:

Samsung's Relumino Mode
Across the globe, roughly 300 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, and generally speaking, most TVs don’t take that into account. So in an effort to make television more accessible and enjoyable for those millions of people suffering from impaired vision, Samsung is adding a new picture mode to many of its new TVs.
[CES 2023] Relumino Mode: Innovation for every need | Samsung
Relumino Mode, as it’s called, works by adding a bunch of different visual filters to the picture simultaneously. Outlines of people and objects on screen are highlighted, the contrast and brightness of the overall picture are cranked up, and extra sharpness is applied to everything. The resulting video would likely look strange to people with normal vision, but for folks with low vision, it should look clearer and closer to "normal" than it otherwise would.
Excitingly, since Relumino Mode is ultimately just a clever software trick, this technology could theoretically be pushed out via a software update and installed on millions of existing Samsung TVs -- not just new and recently purchased ones.

Read more
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more