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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 21:23 EDT

Liquid Robotics Launches Next Generation Of Seafaring Robots

April 8, 2013
Image Caption: Wave Glider SV3 and SV2 during sea trials in Hawaii. Credit: Liquid Robotics

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Last December, the Liquid Robotics PacX Wave Glider robot set a world record after autonomously traversing 9,000 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean.

Today, the Silicon Valley startup is announcing a new line of Wave Glider robots propelled by waves and solar power. The Wave Glider SV3 is the world´s first unmanned ocean robot to use this kind of hybrid technology, according to an official statement from the company.

With this new propulsion system, Liquid Robotics hopes that the SV3 will be able scour portions of the ocean that were previously too costly or difficult to find before. These robots can be used to track sea temperatures and monitor global climate change as well as offer hurricane and tsunami early warnings and help keep an eye on fishery management.

“The SV3 is a tremendous step forward in terms of what we can accomplish in the ocean and gives customers a competitive advantage to capture data in the most challenging ocean conditions,” explained Bill Vass, CEO of Liquid Robotics.

“By providing the ability to deploy Wave Gliders across most of the planet and deliver ocean data in a new and cost-effective way, we´re enabling broad access to affordable ocean exploration.”

The world record-setting predecessor to the SV3 used only wave energy to propel it across the deep blue sea and solar cells to power their communications and sensors. The hybrid propulsion systems on the new SV3 robots are up to 50 percent more efficient than the previous system, said Roger Hine, Liquid Robotics CTO in an interview with VentureBeat.

This technology comes at a price, of course. The new models will cost around $300,000. The earlier SV2 model was released in 2009 and started out at $175,000, but the difference in cost is well worth it for the added functionality, says Hine. The added horsepower of the SV3 helps the robotic craft stay in one place in particularly rocky situations. And when conditions are clear, the SV3 will be able to arrive at its destination more quickly.

“It is still primarily a wave-guided vehicle, but when the waves are low, that is usually when it is sunny,” said Hine.

At its heart, the Wave Glider SV3 is a seafaring data center able to monitor conditions for a host of industries. Going the extra mile, the SV3 can also churn through some of this data onboard and return straight results via satellite back to its home. Owners can configure these robots to capture and analyze data simultaneously and independently of one another, making these robots particularly handy for companies who need an eye on the seas to give them a quick bit of information.

“The SV3 enables unparalleled, pervasive collection of data and processing of data,” said Hine in the statement.

“Riding the advancements in consumer electronics, smart phone, tablet computing and a new generation of extremely capable processors, we are now able to provide processing onboard – actually as powerful as a supercomputer from not long ago.”

Liquid Robotics has also announced some improvements to their nearly 4-year old SV2 floating machine, including enhanced durability, faster processors, expanded WiFi support and expanded application support.


Source: Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online