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Slideshow: Nautical Robots Rule the Waves
6/25/2012

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Liquid Robotics touts its Wave Glider wave-powered, autonomous, unmanned marine vehicle (UMV) as the world's first marine robot that can operate independently for a year or more at sea without needing maintenance. In fleets, the surfboard-sized robots can form data gathering networks. They are designed for predicting weather patterns, monitoring marine ecosystems, and gathering data about climate change, oil slicks, and algae blooms. Other applications include reconnaissance and surveillance. Their propulsion system mechanically converts wave motion into forward movement, and payloads are solar energy-fueled. Each weighs about 90 kg and has an average speed of about 1.5 knots. Recently, four of them broke a world distance record for unmanned devices, traveling more than 3,200 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean.   (Source: Liquid Robotics)
Liquid Robotics touts its Wave Glider wave-powered, autonomous, unmanned marine vehicle (UMV) as the world's first marine robot that can operate independently for a year or more at sea without needing maintenance. In fleets, the surfboard-sized robots can form data gathering networks. They are designed for predicting weather patterns, monitoring marine ecosystems, and gathering data about climate change, oil slicks, and algae blooms. Other applications include reconnaissance and surveillance. Their propulsion system mechanically converts wave motion into forward movement, and payloads are solar energy-fueled. Each weighs about 90 kg and has an average speed of about 1.5 knots. Recently, four of them broke a world distance record for unmanned devices, traveling more than 3,200 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean.
(Source: Liquid Robotics)

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Rob Spiegel
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What a variety of water robots
Rob Spiegel   6/25/2012 12:06:57 PM
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Nice selection of water-based robots, Ann. My favorite is the one you featured in an earlier article -- the humanoid fire fighter.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Ann R. Thryft   6/25/2012 12:43:44 PM
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Thanks, Rob. I prefer the jellyfish and penguin robots over the humanoid ones.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Rob Spiegel   6/25/2012 2:32:21 PM
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Yes, they're all interesting. Robotics seems to have taken a major leap in the past few years. Is there anything in particular that is fueling all of this development, Ann?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Ann R. Thryft   6/25/2012 2:50:55 PM
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I agree, it's amazing what's going on in robot R&D and also production, in terms of both breadth and depth. A lot of cross-pollination will be expanded because of open-source ROS, also. I think the development is spiking for several interrelated reasons. The military and industrial robot makers have been working on robotics independently for some time. Cross-pollination has occurred more with more university department efforts, especially as those become funded by government and (primarily) military budgets. But universities have their own cross-pollination effects, both within and between/among them. So now they're also working on medical robots and other types. Meanwhile, independent robot manufacturers are pursuing specialized paths (service 'bots for instance), sometimes with military and/industrial partners. Then there are also student competitions that have gotten to be a big deal. I think all of these are coming together.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Rob Spiegel   6/25/2012 2:54:47 PM
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Thanks Ann. When it comes to the R&D on robotics in the military and universities, is there a mechanism to share the technology developments with industry? I would guess some of the R&D from the military is classified. But is there also some technology transfer to industry?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Ann R. Thryft   6/25/2012 3:03:01 PM
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Rob, I think that's a question that only the military can answer, if they would, or their subcontractors. But I doubt if either would. I'd guess that such transfer may occur, as it does with any other military subcontractor, to the robot companies developing machines with military funds, such as Boston Dynamics. From my previous experience covering military technology, there's no global mechanism per se: it occurs on a case by case basis.

Charles Murray
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Wave Glider
Charles Murray   6/25/2012 7:12:41 PM
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Ann, I'm amazed that the Wave Gliders have logged as many miles as they apparently have. With the sensors sticking up above the board that way, I'm surpised they don't get damaged.  

gsmith120
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Re: What a variety of water robots
gsmith120   6/25/2012 7:49:18 PM
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Back in tec school many years ago robotics was really growing but all of a sudden it seem like there wasn't much interest.  I'm glad to read and see all the new projects.  I really like the jelly fish.  I would be most interested in seeing an underwater demo, especially the one like Hawkes Remotes U-Series ROV. 

notarboca
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Re: What a variety of water robots
notarboca   6/26/2012 4:42:30 AM
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Ann, I too prefer the robots that mimic the natural sea creatures.  There is just something beautiful in a design that can reproduce nature's functionality, particularly in the sea.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: What a variety of water robots
Beth Stackpole   6/26/2012 6:50:19 AM
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I agree, Ann. The penguin and jellyfish robots are so impressive in that they blend in with the environment and obviously incorporate a lot of biomimicky thinking in their design. Those were the ones that blew me away in this slide show. Not sure how functional they are in terms of their role, but from a design standpoint, a home run in my book.

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