Much of our preoccupation with robots relates to their menacing army pack animals that can run as fast as cheetahs or perform precision air strikes from remote controlled drones, but there are also some really interesting stuff being done to aquatic robots.
I have been following the work of Liquid Robotics since they announced their first unmanned Wave Glider robots over a year ago, so it is nice to see that they are continuing to improve on these ocean faring robots with their recently announced Wave Glider SV3.
The original Wave Gliders gained their propulsion system from the wave energy that they rode on top of, and left the solar power part of the system to just provide power for the array of sensors and for the communications system. With the new generation, Liquid Robotics has managed to improve the solar cells being used to be 50 percent more efficient over the previous model which allows them to also provide power to the propulsion system.
Liquid Robotics gained a place in the history books when one of its second-generation Wave Gliders floated more than 9,000 miles across the Pacific. This wasn't just an idle trip for the record books as it, and it's fellow gliders, was used to study the ocean by collecting data like temperature, winds, humidity, water color, and other data points of interest.
The newer models, which will cost $300,000 (double that of its predecessor), will be used to also gather observational information about climate change, ocean acidification, hurricane and tsunami warnings, and general exploration of our oceans.
The earlier SV2 gliders have traveled more than 300,000 nautical miles, with more than 200 deployed from the Arctic to Australia, and from places like Loch Ness to the Canary Islands. So far, the Wave Gliders have been through 10 hurricanes and yet not a single one of them has been lost.
These newer versions of the Wave Glider weigh less and come with adaptable modular power systems, which means the glider can carry additional power-hungry payloads like sonar and perform image analysis. All the data collected by the Wave Gliders can be transmitted to satellites by either Wi-Fi or cellular, and the glider's internal software can be updated while at sea.
image courtesy of VentureBeat