Wave Gliders are collecting data as they travel across the Pacific
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.
If you want to see one in action, this video from NOAA describes how they’re using Wave Gliders.