A wandering robot that was powered by the waves of the sea called a ‘Wave Glider’ recently completed a nine thousand mile journey, arriving safely in Australia. The robot was one of four that were set off just over a year ago in San Francisco, California in an effort to study ocean data.
In November 2011 two pairs of self-propelled robots called ‘Wave Gliders’ were launched in San Francisco, California. There four robots would have tallied about 38 thousand miles if they all had completed their perspective journeys, however, 2 of them were pulled due to problems, and another is off course about 800 miles from Australia.
The one Wave Glider, "Papa Mau", that successfully reached Australia did so perfectly, and the robot logged in a lot of useful data that scientists were able to study. The company press release dated December 6th stated, “Papa Mau navigated along a prescribed route under autonomous control collecting and transmitting unprecedented amounts of high-resolution ocean data never before available over these vast distances or timeframes.”
The purpose of the scientific experiments with the robots is to monitor temperatures of the sea in relation to where they are. The bots also monitor salinity of the seawater in different regions, and wave height along with ocean oxygen levels.
The one wave glider to that successfully reached its Australia destination on December 8th proved that autonomous, self-powered data gathering robots could be made inexpensively and left to explore the oceans on their own. While standard trade routes have been in existence for centuries, there hasn’t been any real ocean data gathering to speak of until recently. This new technology will help scientists better understand what is happening to the climate and just how much climate change may be affecting oxygen levels and temperatures in the oceans.
The four robots were built by the Liquid Robotics Company, which was founded in 2007. The company operates as an ocean data service provider. The Wave Glider bots were the first fully operational wave-powered, autonomous marine robots. According to their website, Liquid Robotics wants to use this new technology to study ocean data on a continual basis and according to their About page create a “game-changing scientific discoveries to help us address the biggest challenges our world faces, including global climate change, national security, hurricane & tsunami warning, and offshore energy & resource management.”