Autonomous, wave-powered, data-gathering "surfboard" to prowl the Gulf of Maine
Posted by David Brooks | Thursday, May 3, 2012
AP writer Clarke Canfield has an excellent lead on his story (read it here) about a solar- and wave-powered, autonomous vessel being tested for long-term data gathering in the Gulf of Maine:
The newest ocean research tool in New England looks like a surfboard, but it acts like a surveillance drone.
That pretty much sums up the Wave Glider, which is being used in warmer waters but hasn't been tried in the stormy ocean off the coast of New England. A U.Maine professor of physical oceanography is trying it out, according to the story.
The glider consists of a floating portion with a mast, and a tethered robot some 10 feet underwater. It draws power both from solar panels on the floating part and energy from wave motion, allowing it to travel thousands of miles over many weeks without any fuel.
A few more details:
The Wave Glider, manufactured by California-based Liquid Robotics Inc., can be equipped with sensors, acoustic recording devices and cameras. It comes with a 1- or 2-meter-high mast on top equipped with a backup GPS, a safety light and equipment to collect weather data. Underneath, it has a 22-foot-long cable that's attached to a contraption the company calls a glider that uses the motion of the waves to propel it forward.
With solar panels for battery charging and onboard electronics, the Wave Glider can be programmed to travel for up to a year at sea, gathering information as it travels long distances without fuel, without the need for a manned ship and in near silence. It can be controlled through any computer or mobile device with a web browser.