Robots set out on journey across the globe

Posted: 11/19/2011 in all marine news

Joe Rosato Jr. –

A team of ocean explorers of the future sat on the back of a boat in the St. Francis Yacht Harbor, waiting to set-out on the expedition of a lifetime.

Only, they weren’t alive. The team of four seafaring robots, called Wave Gliders, looked something like funky surfboards with antennae and fancy sensors sticking out from everywhere.

They were created by the Sunnyvale-based company, Liquid Robotics, which is hoping to eventually unleash a whole fleet of unmanned robots on the world’s oceans.

“Wave Gliders could potentially go in a far larger area than we could walk… ever,” said Liquid Robotics founder Roger Hine.

On Thursday, the gliders set-out from San Francisco on a journey that will take them to Monterey and Hawaii.

After that, one pair will head for Japan while the other sets-out for Australia.

“The combined distance these four vehicles will travel I think is 33 thousand miles,” said Hine, admiring the crafts.

“It’s an amazing distance and it’s an unprecedented journey for an unmanned vehicle.” Though robotic water gliders have been around for several years, the trip is unprecedented in more ways than just distance.

The vessels use wave power to propel themselves. Their elaborate systems are powered by a solar panel affixed to the top.

The direction is controlled remotely from the company’s headquarters in Sunnyvale.

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