Wave Gliders successfully complete record breaking journey across Pacific
A Robot called Benjamin is one of the four wave gliders developed by Liquid Robotics, which has travelled more than 3000 nautical miles from San Francisco to Hawaii and broke the record of travelling the longest distance that any unmanned vehicle has covered so far. The wave gliders were let out into the ocean on November 17, 2011 and they have completed the first leg of their journey across the Pacific and now will be embarking on a more ambitious trip, this time covering 5,000 more nautical miles, to reach Australia and Japan. Each of these gliders has a floating buoy, tethered to an underground winged platform and it the motion of waves that paddles the buoy forward.
The gliders have a subtle design that allows a slow but steady movement, totally powered by wave motion. They use the passive power of the ocean to drift along. Besides they also have solar cells on their deck to provide to their communication equipment, including sensors and transmitters. The sensors measure oceanographic data such as the water temperature, weather conditions, water florescence, water salinity, etc.
The surface vessel of the wave glider measures 7 feet and is connected to the submerged glider, 20 feet deep in the water. The glider has wing shaped panels that tilt up when the craft is lifted by the waves, rising to make the glider mover across water. On a down wave, the wings tilt down , pulling the craft forward and it gets submerged under water, when the wave is too large, moving through it.
The wave gliders in many aspects represent a revolution in robotics that will considerably cut the cost of research and oceanic observation. As already mentioned the wave gliders will soon leave for their new destination in Australia and Japan, they will be required to collect 2.5 million data points on the physical characteristics to further the info for carrying forward research.