A startup called Liquid Robotics has a growing fleet of autonomous vehicles that rove the ocean collecting data from a variety of onboard sensors.
Liquid Robotics’ patented Wave Glider unmanned maritime vehicle (UMV), which uses waves to propel itself, provides a new way to achieve this understanding.
The robots have a pile of satellite uplink/GSM/WiMax communication gear and redundant GPS units. They have a bunch of deployments. For example, one is a set of robots patrolling the ocean around the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico monitoring water chemistry.
These craft harvest energy from the waves for propulsion and can stay at sea for a very long time. The longest that one craft has been out is 2.5(ish) years. They can cross oceans. They only move at 1-2 knots, which is a great speed for data collection.
Oceans cover most of Earth’s surface with an average depth of more than two miles. Placing observation equipment anywhere in this vast area is difficult and expensive, yet the oceans provide essential resources, influence climate, and enable human life to exist on land. Understanding them requires detailed observation.
Video Wave Glider
By harvesting abundant natural energy, Wave Gliders provide a persistent ocean presence for commercial scientific and defense users.
With a demonstrated endurance exceeding one year, Wave Gliders are now in service with a variety of customers and ongoing engineering development is regularly adapting the vehicle to new applications.