Unmanned Wave Glider Completes Record Journey

Written by on December 6, 2012 in Technology
The PacX Wave Glider getting pulled out of the water in Australia.

The PacX Wave Glider getting pulled out of the water in Australia. Photo Courtesy of Liquid Robotics.

A self-controlled ocean-going robot has successfully completed its year-long, 9000 nautical mile journey from San Francisco to Australia.

The PacX Wave Glider, created by Liquid Robotics, collected temperature, salinity and overall ecosystem data in the Pacific Ocean during its trip. Some of the data could be monitored via satellite throughout the journey, but the robot itself offered more in person.

It’s successful landing is a turning point for science, proving that unmanned equipment can “survive the high seas.”

In a statement about the journey, the company said their robot “weathered gale-force storms, fended off sharks, spent more than 365 days at sea, skirted around the Great Barrier Reef, and finally battled and surfed the east Australian current to reach his final destination in Hervey Bay, near Bundaberg, Queensland.”

As the robot navigated along its predetermined course, it converted energy from waves into forward movement, and relied on solar panels to power the sensors that record data.

Dr. Jeremy Wyatt, from the school of computer science at the University of Birmingham, explains that the technology is becoming less and less expensive, so it’s now “much cheaper to use a robot to gather data than to pay for a manned ship to be at sea for months at a time.”

Liquid robotics has an additional three robots at sea. Two are headed for Japan, although one has to stop in Hawaii for repairs. The third is scheduled to land in Australia early next year.

The PacX Wave Glider in the water.

The PacX Wave Glider in the water. Photo Courtesy of Liquid Robotics.

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Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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