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Wave Glider aquatic robots set world record


March 15, 2012

A group of four autonomous underwater vehicles have just set a world distance record, by traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii

A group of four autonomous underwater vehicles have just set a world distance record, by traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii

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On November 17th of last year, a group of four wave-powered autonomous aquatic robots set out from San Francisco, embarking on a planned 37,000-mile (60,000-km) trip across the Pacific ocean. Recently, the fleet of Wave Gliders completed the first leg of their journey, arriving at Hawaii’s Big Island after traveling over 3,200 nautical miles (5,926 km). By doing so, they have set a new distance record for unmanned wave-powered vehicles – that record previously sat at 2,500 nautical miles (4,630 km).

The Wave Gliders are made by California- and Hawaii-based Liquid Robotics, and each consist of a floating “boat” tethered to an underwater winged platform. The motion of the waves causes these wings to paddle the boat forward, while solar cells on the deck of the boat provide power to its sensors and transmitters. These sensors measure oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature, wave characteristics, weather conditions, water fluorescence, and dissolved oxygen. GPS and a heading sensor also help the craft to orient themselves.

After receiving a brief check-up in Hawaii, the Wave Gliders will continue with their journey, but will split into two pairs. One pair will head for Australia, while the other will be bound for Japan. All four are expected to reach their destinations by late 2012 or early 2013.

Their journey, known as PacX (for "Pacific Crossing"), is intended to showcase the vehicles’ capabilities.

Source: Liquid Robotics via BBC

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

"set a new distance record for unmanned wave-powered vehicles" I didn't know there were any records for wave-powered vehicles, manned or unmanned. I feel enlightened...


I am confused, how do you set a 37,000-mile (60,000-km) distance record ACROSS THE PACIFIC when the circumference of the earth at the equator is only 24,901.55 miles (40,075.16 kilometers)? A round trip at the Pacific's widest East-West line (5 degrees N) would only be about 24,600 miles.


but can I ride it ?

Jay Finke

OPa_Infinity, excellent point. Maybe they are cheating by adding up the distance traveled by the 4 vehicles combined? If 10 friends and I take a 5-mile hike, we just hiked 50 miles!


@ralph.dratman, wouldn't that be 55 miles?


"On May 15, 2013 “Benjamin”, the Wave Glider named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, was officially awarded the Guinness World Record for the longest journey of an autonomous surface vessel. Traveling a total of 7939 nautical miles (14,703 km), Ben began his journey on 17 November 2011 from California’s San Francisco Bay ... He arrived at Lady Musgrave Island near Bundaberg, Queensland Australia on 14 February 2013. The actual distance Benjamin traveled was 9,380.490 nautical miles (17,372.667 km), with 1,441.439 nautical miles (2,669.545 km) being the distance accumulated during the orbit and calibration of the Wave Glider sensors against scientific moorings located throughout the Pacific."

they just didn't go on a straight line

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