An autonomous floating device called a Wave Glider is the latest robot helping scientists keep an eye out and monitor the Great Barrier Reef. The vehicle was reported to have just recently returned from a seven days long mission to its central reef.
The Glider is the result of a five years long joint collaboration between a Boeing Company, Liquid Robotics and the AIMS or the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
The Wave Glider, a New Solution to Ocean Monitoring and Operations?
Liquid Robotics presents its vehicle as a robot that “revolutionizes how we explore and understand the world’s oceans by gathering data in ways or locations previously too costly or challenging to operate”.
The Wave Glider is a USV or an unnamed surface vehicle that is autonomous and which can operate individually or in fleets. It is powered by wind and solar energy and can reportedly supply the mission team with real-time data even after a year with no fuel.
Just recently, this USV returned from its test expedition, which saw its being deployed to the central reef of the Great Barrier Reef. Its mission was to collect a series of oceanographic and meteorological data for the AIMS. Thanks to the technology on board, it was also able to send it back to land in real-time.
Equipped with an acoustic Doppler current profiler, the Wave Glider also had wave monitors with it. These latter can measure the wave climate, or more precisely, their salinity, cleanliness, pressure, and temperature. The USV also collected data on the reef water’s chlorophyll content as well as its hydrocarbons.
Scientists are still testing the abilities and efficiency of using a Wave Glider or a fleet of them in monitoring the Great Barrier Reef. As it is, they consider that using such an ocean vehicle might be able to replace the need for permanently offshore scientific instruments that also require recharging and which can’t autonomously transmit their collected data.
Image Source: Liquid Robotics