Marine Robots Break Record for Journey from SF Bay to Hawai’i

Wave Gliders are collecting data as they travel across the Pacific

"Wave Gliders" use wave energy to move and solar energy to power their scientific instruments.

Four ocean-going robots called Wave Gliders have made their way from San Francisco to the Big Island of Hawai’i, setting a Guinness world record for distance traveled by an unmanned, wave-powered vehicle. They’re not just long-distance voyagers though, they’re also collecting data on ocean conditions and the weather.

Wave Gliders, created by Sunnyvale-based  Liquid Robotics, are about the size and shape of surfboards, but they do more than catch waves. They’re attached to a cable and a set of fins below the surface of the water, which capture wave energy and move the vehicle forward, and they’re equipped with solar panels and scientific instruments. They collect data and send it back via satellite, saving the time and money that go into manned research expeditions.

The four gliders — each one is named after an oceanographer — will continue their trip across the Pacific. Two of them will head across the Mariana Trench to Japan; the other two will veer south, to Australia. You can follow their progress and the data they collect on the PacX Challenge website.

Climate Watch reported on the genesis of the idea of Wave Gliders, and on an early test of the robots.

If you want to see one in action, this video from NOAA describes how they’re using Wave Gliders.

Marine Robots Break Record for Journey from SF Bay to Hawai’i 13 March,2012Molly Samuel

One thought on “Marine Robots Break Record for Journey from SF Bay to Hawai’i”

  1. That is pretty cool! I remember when the drones took off, glad they made
    it! Now, something even cooler, man is going to swim across the Pacific
    from Tokyo to San Francisco this spring 5500 miles! Check out this video on him! and spread the word! He will set a new world record too!

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Molly Samuel

Molly Samuel joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Before becoming KQED Science’s Multimedia Producer, she was a producer for Climate Watch. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Molly has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.

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