Take Note, Michael Phelps: Liquid Robotics' Wave Glider Swims 9,000 Miles To Australia, Breaks Record

Liquid Robotics' Wave Glider robots have been in the news regularly for the last year because of the scale of their endeavor: Tiny wave-powered machines, swimming on their own to perform scientific studies, in the vastness of the world's oceans against all the weather you can imagine. And now one, called Papa Mau, has arrived in Australia after a 9,000 nautical mile journey, which is a world record for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle of its type.

According to Liquid Robotics, Papa Mau "navigated along a prescribed route under autonomous control collecting and transmitting unprecedented amounts of high-resolution ocean data never before available over these vast distances or timeframes." All the data is being made open to competitors as part of the PacX Challenge, a global competition that's been set up to explore and research the data set. Five science teams have now been selected to compete for the grand prize of $50,000 in research money from BP.

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  • HeinzH.

    What an incredible engineering achievement. It just traveled 9,000 miles across the ocean, under autonomous control. Yet arm-chair engineers are questioning engineering decisions. How about we just revel for a moment in what was achieved?

  • Shepherd0886

    Since they first appeared robots have been portrayed as both friends and foes.  As science catches up with fiction as it is prone to do we are finding that exact scenario.  Robots help us but also hurt us in many ways.  They make tedious, dangerous, and difficult tasks easier but also take away jobs.  They help us study our planet and environment but also allow us to spy on each other and even launch attacks on others.

    As I watch today's science fiction movies it is rather fascinating to try and envision what tomorrow will look like.  How many of the marvels that we see on the screen will become reality?  Every day robotics manages to exceed human physical abilities.  They have almost unlimited endurance and can lift huge loads and can analyze their surroundings with lightning speed and react without emotion.  That aspect can make them rather dangerous because you simply cannot reason with a rogue piece of electo/mechanical equipment.

    Though I am approaching the end of my days my sons should be able to witness some rather amazing progress.  I just hope that it proves beneficial to mankind.  The robotic explorers that are making their first historic examinations of our nearest planetary neighbors may someday help us to find other habitable planets where our species may someday migrate.  I think that planet Earth is beginning to get a little tired of our species.  We have overstayed our welcome like irritating relatives.  LOL      

  • MJR

    Liquid Robotics Wave Glider:  That looks like solar panels on the top.  WHY??!??  There's a ton more energy density in the waves.  A simple DC motor on the joint between the two float sections, a diode, and regulator would allow one to charge the batteries all that was needed.

  • jammer

    Solar panels are readily available and robust for this application. Your option would require more time and engineering. Not that it's a bad option, but probably not the best option for the team that designed this. 

  • Ol' Bob

    "Coast Guard Station, Honolulu - can I help you?"
    "I just found this little boat thing out in the harbord, dragging a rope and a handle - and look, the handle's got a hand attached to it"."Hand?  Where's the rest of the body?"
    "Oh, yeah - did I mention it was being followed by a real happy-looking shark..?"