The beautiful oceans that cover three-quarters of our planet are home to some of our most valuable natural resources. However, while our knowledge of outer space is quite extensive, the same cannot be said about the deep waters, thanks to the fact that any attempts to monitor them has either been too cumbersome or too expensive. Now, California-based Liquid Robotics has come up with an innovative invention that is both economical and easily deployable across the waters.
Called Wave Glider, the autonomous robot that resembles a surfboard comprises of two interconnected sections - On the surface is a 6ft. wide by 10ft. long glider fitted with solar panels, battery and sensors. Right below floating 23.ft underwater, is a navigation glider complete with a rudder.
The robot traverses the ocean waters at a snail's pace gathering data as it goes along. This data is quickly sorted by its solar-powered computer chips and then transmitted via satellite to powerful computers ashore for extensive analysis.
Unlike other monitoring devices, this eco-friendly robot contains no battery that needs to be recharged. It is a zero emission device that uses wave energy to propel itself forward and solar energy to power up the data computer chips. Originally created in 2005 by silicon valley engineer Roger Hines to monitor humpback whales, Wave Glider is today used for a myriad of purposes ranging from helping the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monitor rising ocean temperatures to helping the petroleum industry measure oil spills.
There are currently over 60 Wave Glider robots floating around the oceans collecting data for various clients. While this is awesome, the company is not satisfied and now wants to take ocean monitoring to the next level.
Their new mission is to connect all the Wave Gliders so that instead of working solo like they currently do, they work in collaboration with each other. For instance, if there is a giant oil spill the robot can signal other robots to join and help collect data. The company is also working towards making them even more autonomous than they currently are.
As it now stands while the robots can detect a hazard such as ship or as was recently the case, a shark, it does not have the capability to steer away - That has to be done manually by a human monitoring the robot's activities from land. Liquid Robotics wants to change that and program the robots so that they have the ability to steer away when faced with hazards.
While all this is going on, the company also has another exciting initiative in the works. To encourage the general public to get involved with the informative data collected by Wave Gliders, the company is planning to launch four of the eco-friendly robots on a yearlong trip across the Pacific. Two will head to Tokyo and two to Sydney. All the data they collect will be posted online and the person who comes up with the most innovative interpretation will be awarded a prize. We wonder what ocean secrets the data will unveil! To read more about these amazing robots go to liquidr.com.