Liquid Robotics’ Wave Glider unmanned maritime vehicle (UMV) uses waves to propel itself along the ocean surface, carrying sensors to monitor the ocean.
The Wave Glider, which is a self-powered hybrid sea-surface and underwater robotic vehicle, provides an almost limitless means to monitor the ocean with a demonstrated endurance that has already exceeded one year. The Glider operates as an autonomous platform for ocean observation, data collection, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It is also being field tested for commercial operations such as in offshore oil and gas exploration, and for a variety of national security uses.
The submerged glider has wing-shaped panels and a surface float joined by a 7-meter (23ft) tether and has a top speed of only two knots (2.3mph, 3.7km/hr). Speed is not the driving design parameter though, endurance is. With the solar powered transmitter, the Wave Glider can travel to a distant ocean area, collect and transmit data in real time via satellite or radio, and then return to port under its own power for maintenance.
The Wave Glider float section integrated solar panels charges onboard batteries, powers electronics and monitors payloads. The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of Hawaii are interested in using the Wave Glider in their research.
In one test, a Wave Glider traveled on a 41-day mission from Monterey Bay to Alaska. The average speed was 1.5knots (1.7mph, 2.8km/hr), and it experienced a maximum Sea State of 6 (20ft waves, 40knot winds).
Liquid Robotics have received $22 million in funding to continue to develop the Wave Glider, which seems to be a much more eco-friendly way to research the ocean surface than cruising in a large vessel.