Tuesday, 22 Nov, 2011 Technology

Latest Invention: Wave Gliders - Autonomous Aquatic Robots to Cross the Pacific Ocean


A team of researchers and engineers from Liquid Robotics, California-based firm, has recently launched 4 small aquatic robots that will autonomously travel 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles) across the Pacific Ocean.

Dubbed Wave Gliders, the robot were launched last Thursday from San Francisco and their destination point is Hawaii. From there the four aquatic machines will split in two pairs - one will travel to Australia, while the other to Japan.

It is worth mentioning that the robots are part of a project entitled "PacX" ("Pacific Crossing") which is going to constitute the longest trip ever carried out by an autonomous ocean vessel.

A Wave Glider is made of a surface-floating unmanned boat, connected to an underwater winged platform. The wings paddle as the ocean's waves move, which pushes the boat forward. The sensors and transmitters, that each boat is equipped with, are powered by solar cells installed onboard.

Sensors are used to collect oceanographic information like salinity, water temperature, wave characteristics, weather conditions, water fluorescence, and dissolved oxygen. To be able to orient, the boats feature GPS and a heading sensors.

The basic information collected by each boat will be transmitted via satellite onto Google Earth's Ocean Showcase that offers free access to anyone. More detailed information will be provided to researchers that are working on the project. It would be interesting to note that each robotic boat costs $200,000.

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