After an amazing and incredibly long journey, a wave-powered swimming robot has successfully made its way across the Pacific. The robot was launched from San Francisco, California over a year ago, and was found on Australian shores just yesterday. The record broken was for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle.
The robot is called the “PacX Wave Glider”, more commonly referred to as Papa Mau, and was designed by Liquid Robotics based in the United States. The initial goal of the project was to use the robot to collect “unprecedented amounts of high-resolution ocean data never before available over these vast distances or time-frames”. What also became of the project was a competition, encouraging students to make innovative use of the data collected by the PacX.
The PacX Wave Glider’s journey across the Pacific Ocean was no easy task at all. During its voyage it faced extremely adverse weather conditions like gale force winds and deadly thunderstorms. It was also able to successfully repel sharks and make its way around the Great Barrier Reef, which would have otherwise stopped it in its tracks. It’s remarkable that it ran into no trouble along the way, and its success is a major pat on the back to the engineers that designed the remarkable contraption.
PacX is comprised of two main sections. On the top of the robot you’ll see a surfboard type of structure that helps prevent the robot from flipping over and becoming a dud. On the bottom there is a patterned section of fins and a keel. The robot does not operate on fuel, but converts the force of Pacific waves into a forward thrust.
“To say we are excited and proud of Papa Mau reaching his final destination is an understatement,” Liquid Robotics CEO Bill Vass said. “We set off on the PacX journey to demonstrate that Wave Glider technology could not only survive the high seas and a journey of this length, but more importantly, collect and transmit ocean data in real-time from the most remote portions of the Pacific Ocean. We’ve demonstrated delivery of ocean data services through the most challenging ocean conditions. Mission accomplished.”
Liquid Robotics still has three other robots that are crossing the Pacific Ocean. One is also heading to Australia while the other two are on their way to Japan. For some reason, I’m thinking the PacX will be the R2D2 of this project. I’m sure those engineers would hope I’m wrong.[DigitalTrends]