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4 Wave Gliders Begin Their Autonomous Pacific Crossing Attempt

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the well-they're-not-totally-autonomous dept.

Australia 41

In 2009, an autonomous ocean glider bobbed and dipped its way across the Atlantic; now, reader cylonlover writes with word that "Four small autonomous aquatic robots have embarked on a 60,000-kilometer (37,000-mile) journey across the Pacific ocean. The Wave Gliders, built by California-based Liquid Robotics, left San Francisco last Thursday." Two of the robot craft are to head to Australia, the other two to Japan. According to the IEEE description, "Waves will power their propulsion systems and the sun will power the sensors that will be measuring things like water salinity, temperature, clarity, and oxygen content; collecting weather data, and gathering information on wave features and currents."

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41 comments

Impressive (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38136756)

Very impressive, considering that the diameter of the earth is only 12,750 KM.

Re:Impressive (3, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136850)

Very impressive, considering that the diameter of the earth is only 12,750 KM.

Heh. Either they goofed up a decimal place somewhere, or these 'bots are following a very crooked path to their destination.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38137910)

Uh, diameter != circumference

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38139270)

even so, C=D So C=12,750 or C40055

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38139380)

well apparently i should have previewed and seen that i can't use the Pi symbol or the approximately symbol so just pretend those are there

Re:Impressive (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38144154)

Yes, they're related by a factor of PI. And 60,000 kilometers is 1.5 times around the planet at the equator. They'd have to circle the entire Pacific (A San Francisco to Anchorage to Vladivostok to Taiwain to Perth to Tasmania to New Zealand to Easter Island to Tierra del Fuego to the Galapagos to Baja to San Francisco kind of route) more than twice to get anywhere near that.

Re:Impressive (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38146904)

Yes, they're related by a factor of PI. And 60,000 kilometers is 1.5 times around the planet at the equator. They'd have to circle the entire Pacific (A San Francisco to Anchorage to Vladivostok to Taiwain to Perth to Tasmania to New Zealand to Easter Island to Tierra del Fuego to the Galapagos to Baja to San Francisco kind of route) more than twice to get anywhere near that.

I read it as the total distance for the 4 of them, i.e. a quarter of 60,000km (15,000km) each. 60,000 km is 1 1/2 times round the whole world at the equator

Re:Impressive (2)

fatphil (181876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38138514)

it's the waves - they'll be bobbing up and down several metres for every metre they go forward.

Re:Impressive (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136948)

Or, perhaps, as they are taking measurements, they are not going in a straight line? Also, not being powered by anthing more than the waves themselves, I am sure they are subject to the ocean currents.

Re:Impressive (2)

fotoflojoe (982885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38138102)

When I let my dog out to autonomously navigate our back yard, she never ever takes the most direct route to the woods, she always follows a circuitous path.

Re:Impressive (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38138428)

Also, not being powered by anthing more than the waves themselves, I am sure they are subject to the ocean currents.

Actually, they tend to stay within 50 meters of their programmed track. [liquidr.com] I've seen a presentation by the developers. They have a GPS and follow waypoints, and they have an Iridium satellite phone link. As long as there's a little wind to produce even light chop, they get enough energy from wave motion to overcome ocean currents.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38137036)

The diameter isn't relevant unless the machines are actually drilling through the core of the Earth.

You might have meant 'circumference'

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38137060)

If you multiply by pi it's still less than 60000 km, and that would be all the way around the world.

Re:Impressive (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137136)

You use the newer pi*d method of measuring circumference. I prefer the more tried and true 2 * pi * r. Sure it is an extra multiplicand, but there are no shortcuts to accuracy.

Re:Impressive (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137858)

It's not pi*d, It's (Tau * R)
Jeez yah old geezer

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38141654)

Here is a compromise that should make everybody happy today: | (1i / ( (-1/ (1i*PI) ) * (1i/-TAU) * (-1/R) * (1/-D) ) ^ (1 / (1/PI) * (1/TAU) ) ) ) |

Re:Impressive (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137080)

I'm guessing the total of the four robots is 60,000km \ 37,000 miles, which would average to a much more realistic 15,000km \ 9,250 miles each.

Re:Impressive (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137208)

The trip is expected to last 300 days. Doing the math, this is 200 km/day, or roughly 8 km/hr (5 mi/hr for my American friends). If we divided by four, we'd have a 2 km/hr speed.

So, I think the article summary is correct.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38137280)

They're only going to voyage in water that is no more than two tiles from shoreline.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38137294)

I must have missed the part where these things are going through the center of the earth...Why else would you mention diameter...

Re:Impressive (1)

MasaMuneCyrus (779918) | more than 2 years ago | (#38138176)

I believe the term you're looking for is "circumference," and the circumference of Earth is around ~40,000 km.

Also, according to their website [liquidr.com], they will not be just traveling from point A to point B. Scientists use buzzwords and "wow!" statements in their research, too, so I imagine that 33,000 nm journey also includes the journey back to California.

During their 33,000 nautical mile journey, the Wave Gliders will travel across some of the world’s most challenging environments. The Wave Gliders will begin their journey together to Hawaii, and then split into pairs, one pair continuing to Japan (over the Mariana Trench, where Virgin Oceanic will complete the first of its Five Deep Dives) and the other pair to Australia.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38138734)

Ummm, they are not traveling thru the center of the earth to get to the other side. They are traversing the outside shell of the sphere so the circumference of 25,000 miles (40,000 km) would be more appropriate.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38143132)

You should look up the circumference of the earth - they aren't traveling through the core.

Re:Impressive (1)

Duggeek (1015705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152854)

When someone makes a robot to travel the diameter (rather than a circumference arc) of the Earth, then I'll be really impressed.

37000 miles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38136834)

across the Pacific? Hmmm, mayber 3700 miles.

Batteries (3, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136924)

For those of you just reading the summary, the solar panels exist to recharge the onboard batteries.
Battery capacity is more or less the reason there are major differences in price between Liquid Robotics various offerings.

There used to be a PDF on the website that showed their different models & specs, but it doesn't seem to exist anymore.

Re:Batteries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38137302)

Is this the PDF you're talking about?

http://liquidr.com/files/2011/05/WaveGlider_Web.pdf

Not the only ones doing this.. (5, Informative)

willy_me (212994) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137684)

Here is another maker of similar products.

http://www.webbresearch.com/ [webbresearch.com]

The company I work for, Rockland Scientific [rocklandscientific.com], designs sensors that can be attached to these subs. Some of them are rated for 6000m - kind of makes 600' look like a joke...

But another method of collecting data is to simply have floating sensors. Similar data is collected but there is no propulsion except for up and down. Every so often they surface and transmit their collected data. Then they go back down and continue drifting with the current. They are typically used in a disposable manner and only last 5 years. The advantage of these devices is that they are far less costly. It is also convenient to have them follow the ocean current. Around 1000 of these sensors are placed into the ocean each year. A french company makes them, wish I could remember the name.

Re:Not the only ones doing this.. (2)

GonzoPhysicist (1231558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38138010)

Ah yes, the ubiquitous Argo floats, the wiki page has a great map map showing them covering the world's oceans. I'm amazed boats aren't running into these all the time (or maybe they are?)

Re:Not the only ones doing this.. (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38139172)

Ah yes, the ubiquitous Argo floats, the wiki page has a great map map showing them covering the world's oceans. I'm amazed boats aren't running into these all the time (or maybe they are?)

Considering that the Argo floats spend 95% of their time at depths of 1000 metres or more below the surface, and that they are about the size of a typical welding gas tank (which is a small target in a big ocean) it wouldn't surprise me to learn that there has never been a collision.

one for the Guinness books (3, Informative)

GonzoPhysicist (1231558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137882)

I've been working on a CO2/pH monitoring system as a payload for these guys. Really cool stuff, I didn't RTFA but I heard this trip is a world record for longest autonomous ocean going voyage.

from sun to liquid robotics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38147192)

Java father James Gosling, who now heads up Liquid Robotics’ software operation: Liquid Robotics has “a technically interesting challenge, that could save the world, and is economically viable—these three things don’t come together that often.”

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