of robots like the Wave Glider to capture new information on how oceans
contribute to the formation and sustainment of large hurricanes.
Liquid Robotics also is conducting
its own demonstration of the Wave
Glider’s capabilities known as PacX.
Starting in San Francisco in Novem-
ber 2011, four Wave Gliders embarked
on a trans-Pacific journey, with two
robots bound for Japan and the other
two headed for Australia. The trips
are expected to take more than 300
days, and when completed, potentially
will set world records for the longest
distance attempted by an unmanned
around islands and to other changes as
they occur,” he explains.
James Gosling is chief software architect
with Liquid Robotics Incorporated.
Pierre Lermusiaux is a professor in the
Department of Mechanical Engineering at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
algorithms. He also says an important
part of the Wave Glider is the command and control system, which
enables human operators to make
adjustments to the swarm as needed.
While the Wave Glider system relies
on almost constant contact with its
operations base, Gosling says that his
group also has planned for the possible
loss of communications through the
Iridium satellite system. In case that
happens, the robot is programmed to
continue executing the last instructions it was given and to continue in
that mode until satellite communication is restored.
While the design of the Wave Glid-
er is structurally simple, Gosling says
the robot’s design also is mechanically
complex to account for its operation
in the salt water of the open ocean.
In addition to withstanding the cor-
rosiveness of salt water, the robot must
be designed to survive the extremes
of storms at sea. A Wave Glider now
being evaluated by the National Oce-
anic and Atmospheric Administra-
tion (NOAA) in the Gulf of Mexico
recently was diverted from its previ-
ous data-gathering mission to instead
obtain information about conditions
at the sea’s surface during the approach
of Hurricane Isaac in August. In the
future, officials hope to deploy an array
ocean vehicle. Along the way, the
robots are collecting information about
the ocean and are transmitting their
positions and ocean condition data to
a regularly updated website that Liquid
Robotics is co-sponsoring with Google.
At last report, three out of the four
robots are continuing their journey, but
Gosling acknowledges that the com-
pany has lost contact with one that is
assumed to be missing at sea.
communications with the robots.
Every robot has a Global Positioning
System (GPS) receiver, so we always
know where we are,” he continues. The
robot also has to be programmed with
a definitive mission and has to be in a
form that can receive the navigational
MIT MSEAS: www.mseas.mit.edu
Liquid Robotics: www.liquidr.com