Glider Sets Record with Rechargeable Batteries

Written by on December 6, 2013 in Technology

ACSA, a company that designs underwater robotic and acoustic systems, announced yesterday that the SeaExplorer glider successfully completed a two-month record-setting mission in collaboration with the Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche (LOV) of National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC).


SeaExplorer. Image courtesy of ACSA.

The SeaExplorer is unique in the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) world. Most gliders are powered by alkaline or primary Lithium batteries that need to be changed every few months, which is costly and takes time away from missions. ACSA’s SeaExplorer glider is equipped with rechargeable Li-Ion batteries, making it a reliable and cost-effective way to study the oceans.

“The mission objective was to evaluate the endurance of our first glider equipped with rechargeable batteries while performing several round trips between France and Corsica Island” said Dr. Hervé Claustre of the CNRS LOV.

The glider was launched on September 5, 2013, south of Nice, and recovered two months later on November 5 at Bay of Angels on the French Riviera. By completing this journey, the Sea Explorer became the first glider to break a double world record (for distance and duration) for multi-sensor UUVs with rechargeable batteries.

Mission Highlights:

  • The SeaExplorer glider traveled a total of 1,183 kilometers (about 735 miles) in 60 days on a single battery charge.
  • It averaged 0.5 knots.
  • It provided over 1,168 profiles of the water column from the surface to a depth of 500 meters.
  • From an onshore office, the glider was manually stopped when indicators showed only 18% of its battery life remained.
Temperature data collected during the mission. Image courtesy of ACSA.

Temperature data collected during the mission. Image courtesy of ACSA.

The successful mission demonstrates that the SeaExplorer glider is scientifically reliable, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly — the batteries only need to be replaced once every 10 years and they take only a few hours to recharge.

Laurent Beguery, expert consultant for ACSA from the French Operating Gliders Center expressed her delight with the SeaExplorer’s mission: “The performance of the endurance test is clearly a success. This means that this first rechargeable glider is now mature enough to represent a reliable alternative to alkaline and primary Lithium powered gliders.”

Read the full news release here.

SeaExplorer path.

SeaExplorer path. Image courtesy of ACSA.

Copyright © 2013 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 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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