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4 Wave Gliders Begin Their Autonomous Pacific Crossing Attempt 41

Posted by timothy
from the well-they're-not-totally-autonomous dept.
In 2009, an autonomous ocean glider bobbed and dipped its way across the Atlantic; now, reader cylonlover writes with word that "Four small autonomous aquatic robots have embarked on a 60,000-kilometer (37,000-mile) journey across the Pacific ocean. The Wave Gliders, built by California-based Liquid Robotics, left San Francisco last Thursday." Two of the robot craft are to head to Australia, the other two to Japan. According to the IEEE description, "Waves will power their propulsion systems and the sun will power the sensors that will be measuring things like water salinity, temperature, clarity, and oxygen content; collecting weather data, and gathering information on wave features and currents."
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4 Wave Gliders Begin Their Autonomous Pacific Crossing Attempt

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  • Impressive (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @12:24PM (#38136756)

    Very impressive, considering that the diameter of the earth is only 12,750 KM.

    • Re:Impressive (Score:4, Insightful)

      by d3ac0n (715594) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @12:28PM (#38136850)

      Very impressive, considering that the diameter of the earth is only 12,750 KM.

      Heh. Either they goofed up a decimal place somewhere, or these 'bots are following a very crooked path to their destination.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        it's the waves - they'll be bobbing up and down several metres for every metre they go forward.
    • Or, perhaps, as they are taking measurements, they are not going in a straight line? Also, not being powered by anthing more than the waves themselves, I am sure they are subject to the ocean currents.

    • by zmooc (33175)

      Wave up
      Wave down
      Wave up
      Wave down
      etc. :P

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      They're taking the scenic route.

    • I'm guessing the total of the four robots is 60,000km \ 37,000 miles, which would average to a much more realistic 15,000km \ 9,250 miles each.

      • The trip is expected to last 300 days. Doing the math, this is 200 km/day, or roughly 8 km/hr (5 mi/hr for my American friends). If we divided by four, we'd have a 2 km/hr speed.

        So, I think the article summary is correct.

    • I believe the term you're looking for is "circumference," and the circumference of Earth is around ~40,000 km.

      Also, according to their website [liquidr.com], they will not be just traveling from point A to point B. Scientists use buzzwords and "wow!" statements in their research, too, so I imagine that 33,000 nm journey also includes the journey back to California.

      During their 33,000 nautical mile journey, the Wave Gliders will travel across some of the world’s most challenging environments. The Wave Gliders will begin their journey together to Hawaii, and then split into pairs, one pair continuing to Japan (over the Mariana Trench, where Virgin Oceanic will complete the first of its Five Deep Dives) and the other pair to Australia.

    • by Duggeek (1015705)

      When someone makes a robot to travel the diameter (rather than a circumference arc) of the Earth, then I'll be really impressed.

  • Batteries (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @12:33PM (#38136924) Journal

    For those of you just reading the summary, the solar panels exist to recharge the onboard batteries.
    Battery capacity is more or less the reason there are major differences in price between Liquid Robotics various offerings.

    There used to be a PDF on the website that showed their different models & specs, but it doesn't seem to exist anymore.

  • by willy_me (212994) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @01:18PM (#38137684)

    Here is another maker of similar products.

    http://www.webbresearch.com/ [webbresearch.com]

    The company I work for, Rockland Scientific [rocklandscientific.com], designs sensors that can be attached to these subs. Some of them are rated for 6000m - kind of makes 600' look like a joke...

    But another method of collecting data is to simply have floating sensors. Similar data is collected but there is no propulsion except for up and down. Every so often they surface and transmit their collected data. Then they go back down and continue drifting with the current. They are typically used in a disposable manner and only last 5 years. The advantage of these devices is that they are far less costly. It is also convenient to have them follow the ocean current. Around 1000 of these sensors are placed into the ocean each year. A french company makes them, wish I could remember the name.

    • Ah yes, the ubiquitous Argo floats, the wiki page has a great map map showing them covering the world's oceans. I'm amazed boats aren't running into these all the time (or maybe they are?)
      • Ah yes, the ubiquitous Argo floats, the wiki page has a great map map showing them covering the world's oceans. I'm amazed boats aren't running into these all the time (or maybe they are?)

        Considering that the Argo floats spend 95% of their time at depths of 1000 metres or more below the surface, and that they are about the size of a typical welding gas tank (which is a small target in a big ocean) it wouldn't surprise me to learn that there has never been a collision.

  • by GonzoPhysicist (1231558) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @01:28PM (#38137882)
    I've been working on a CO2/pH monitoring system as a payload for these guys. Really cool stuff, I didn't RTFA but I heard this trip is a world record for longest autonomous ocean going voyage.

My idea of roughing it turning the air conditioner too low.

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