Skip to comments.Surfboard-Sized Vessel Makes Round the World Journey
Posted on 12/05/2012 9:08:42 PM PST by nickcarraway
Surfboard-Sized Vessel Makes Round the World Journey Sunnyvale company pops the champagne now that its vessel has broken a world record for distance traveled
As the small boat bobbed in six-foot waves off Bundaberg, Australia, Graham Hine caught a glimpse of the tiny surfboard-sized vessel churning through the surf.
Just driving up to it in the boat and seeing it there in the water, really having swam nine-thousand miles was pretty amazing, recalled Hine, the senior vice president of operations for Sunnyvale-based Liquid Robotics.
The arrival of the companys wave propelled glider, nicknamed Papa Mau, marked the end of a year-long, 9,000 mile trek across the Pacific Ocean -- a world record for distance traveled by an unmanned vessel.
Papa Mau set-out from the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco November, 2011 along with three other of the company's wave gliders.
Two headed for Japan, while the other pair aimed for Hawaii on their way to their final destination of Australia. Papa Mau got to Australia first, having endured brutal storms, ripping currents and even a shark attack.
There was a tooth embedded in the rubber, said Hine, who had scientists review the item. Sure enough its a shark tooth. But ever the trooper, the robot continued to transmit back scientific data from its solar powered sensors, giving scientists rare access to a long swath of the Pacific Ocean.
We were able to collect temperature information, water chemistry information, current information, weather information said James Gosling, Liquid Robotics chief software engineer.
The wave gliders resemble over-sized Boogie Boards with racks of fins submerge below the surface.
The waves catch the fins to propel the vessel forward, indefinitely. The rudder is controlled by team members back in Sunnyvale who follow the vessels' progress on large digital maps helping steer clear of passing ships.
The wave gliders' true role is as scientific observers, venturing to places where actual scientists would have trouble reaching. Their solar-powered sensors and cameras have been used to search for oil, monitor weather and collect data on climate change.
The exciting part is not making it to Australia but the journey in between, said Gosling. Because the journey is where the data is. The data is out in the ocean.
But the successful trek to Australia represents a victory for the company, and its aim of demonstrating the devices' durability.
Hine said the company may now use the wave gliders to explore Antarctica and points beyond.
To go across the ocean now, said Hines, no one can tell me this technology does not have legs.
Hardly “around the world”......but damned impressive, nonetheless. Brilliant marketing.
It seems to me that they shouldn’t call unmanned craft “vessels”. Vessels contain something, namely people, while these contain none.
Maybe no one can tell it to him, but I'll try: This technology does not have legs. Fins, maybe, but no legs.
How does it manage barnacles?
I tend to agree, otherwise every bottle with a note in it would be characterized as a vessel.
Well, no people but they contain a good amount of scientific equipment unrelated to propulsion thereby constituting a cargo.
Ok, but if I throw a steamer trunk in the ocean, it may float, and it may contain stuff, but that doesn’t really make it a “vessel”.
This is a powered vessel under directed navigation built expressly for the purposes of collecting and containing cargo (data) much as a fishing vessel does. It collects its cargo at it makes its way to an intended destinion via a plotted course. I suppose further quibbling might serve a purpose but, with present information, I am unable to determine such purpose.
You call it what you want, I’ll call it what I want. It’s a glorified toy boat, not an ocean-going vessel.