A lot of marine scientists are more than happy to spend time in the ocean, placing instruments, taking samples, and getting a firsthand look around. Mark Patterson, an affable Harvard-educated professor of marine and environmental sciences at Northeastern University, takes it a bit farther. He’s lived on the seabed for a grand total of 87 days. Yet Patterson knows that sometimes there’s no substitute for a good remote-controlled robot, like the AUVs that he and his lab colleagues have designed and built. The acronym stands for autonomous underwater vehicle – basically an ocean-going space probe.