A graphic shows wind speed data from Hurricane Isaac recorded by a Wave Glider robot in the Gulf of Mexico during the storm. The Wave Glider, developed by Liquid Robotics and launched by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is a seven-foot-long surfboard with a solar-powered boat propulsion system and sensors to collect oceanographic and weather data. (Source: Liquid Robotics)
Sounds like there is huge potential for these robots to become part of some kind of active tracking system deployed throughout our oceans and waterways as part of monitoring storms and other possible natural disasters. Only question I guess is who foots the bill.
Great idea, but good luck getting government funding in this political climate. It would be a natural addition to systems already put in place to track tsunamis, say, outside of Hawaii, or monitoring the water heights near the levees in New Orleans.
The Gulf is one of several locations where NOAA has deployed tsunami tracking devices. According to this NOAA website
the real-time monitoring systems, called DART, are also deployed in the Pacific and Indian Ocean basins. Wave Glider looks like a good candidate for replacing the buoy/sensor combo currently used.
Living in South Florida, we're particularly cognizant of much of the NOAA and National Hurricane Center activities, as they are news-reeled on a regular basis each time a Hurricane meanders across the Atlantic basin. Knowing that both are government funded agencies, and also being somewhat familiar with the predictive technologies they routinely leverage, these waveboard mechanisms may encounter a surge in agency deployments considering this one's robust survival and demonstrated capability during/after Isaac. ( Wonder if we know the Stocker Ticker Symbol-? )
Jim, interesting perspective from someone right there in the heart of the action. I agree with the potential for Wave Glider's adoption by government agencies. So does its manufacturer, Liquid Robotics. Last month the company created a wholly owned federal subsidiary for selling to the US government.
Counting on the government to accomplish a long term project correctly is an iffy situation at best. An organised group of private individuals with a common intrest gives you a better chance of long term continuity of goals. Including lobying for government fundig where applicable.
Design Engineer - While I am generally the first guy want to keep the government out, I wonder if this is one of the few instances where goverment involvement is a good thing. The primary goal of this is security (from the weather in this case), which is one of the functions of government.
You are correct, this probably would fall into a catagory of projects in which the government ought to be involved. The question in my mind is "Can a body that changes composition every two years keep the continuity required for a project that might go on for twenty years?". The record to date is not encouraging without an outside "special interest" group to keep them on point.
Excellent post Elizabeth. Also Beth, I agree completely with your comments relative to this "device" being deployed around the globe to aid the efforts of forecasters. I can see how these "robots" could provide additional early warning as well as improve understanding of the physics associated with storms developing and those in progress. I'm going to get on my soap box here and say I have no idea as to what our Congress does with their time and I would suspect the only grant money available will money that helps them get re-elected. (NOTE: Please see abdication of all efforts to fund NASA's manned space flight program.) At any rate, I think this is a good use of VC money and tax payer's money.
TJ, the term "robot" doesn't necessarily imply that it looks like a human, although early robots did. DN did a survey on this subject, asking our Systems & Product Design Engineering and Automation & Control Engineering groups on LinkedIn "Should Robots Look Like People or Machines?" Here are the results: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1381&doc_id=237885
General dictionaries are good for defining broad, commonly used vocabulary terms, but not at all useful for fast-moving, highly specialized fields like science and technology. Wikipedia is usually a lot more reliable. Here's what it says: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot
Ann is certainly correct. Industrial robots don't look at all human, at least most of them don't. With robotics, the name follows the functionality rather than the appearance. An automaton might be a better term for something designed to have somewhat of a human appearance, actualy, and that is closer to the roots of the word.
Thanks, William, for the industrial robot example. I didn't think of them in terms of appearance. One of the most interesting things to me about the definition cited in Wikipedia--as well as the definitions of robotics engineers--isn't what a robot looks like, but the fact that it doesn't have to be autonomous. Yet because of growing up with science fiction, I guess, many of us tend to assume that autonomy is part of the definition. A robot does have to perform tasks automatically, but that can be as part of a larger control system, such as found in industrial contexts, where controls are external to the robot. Most of the robots I write about are either remote-controlled (RC) or autonomous, and some can operate in both modes.
Almost all of the robots that I have worked with have been industrial robots, the closest times that they get to being autonomous are when they decide how to slow down for a direction change, and, for a select few, when they get to push untilo a specified force level is obtained. A fully autonomous industrial robot would be both scary and dangerous, since they are not very much aware of their surroundings.
And I thought that the word "robot" came from Remote Operation By OThers. Not sure where I read that, or if the source was reliable.