In a world record setting crossing, the first wave powered autonomous marine robot arrives in Queensland after its lonely 17,000 kilometre journey from San Francisco, writes Andy Park.
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6 Dec 2012 - 6:14 PM  UPDATED 26 Aug 2013 - 10:48 AM

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Despite shark attacks, gale-force storms and the 365 days on the lonely open seas, Papa Mau, one of four Wave Gliders who set out from San Francisco last year, has successfully traversed the Pacific Ocean.

The autonomous marine robot, which uses only solar and wave power, arrived in Harvey Bay, Queensland today, setting a new Guinness World Record for the longest distance travelled by an autonomous vehicle, travelling 16,668 kilometres or 9000 nautical miles.

The three machines began their journey together from California to Hawaii, and then split into pairs where one pair is continuing to Japan via the Mariana Trench.

One of the pair, which spit off to head for Australia, malfunctioned and had to be dry-docked for repairs.

WAVE GLIDER ARCHITECTURE

The data collecting and transmitting robot navigated along a prescribed route, collecting high-resolution images and data that are being made available free and in real time for anyone to use, from oceanographers, geographers, marine biologists and other scientists.

It's part of the PacX Challenge, a global competition that's been set up to explore and research the data set.

Five science teams have now been selected to compete for the grand prize of $50,000 in research money from BP.

WAVE GLIDER ARRIVES IN AUSTRALIA

“To say we are excited and proud of Papa Mau reaching his final destination is an understatement,” said Bill Vass, CEO of Liquid Robotics.

“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.”

WAVE GLIDER STRONG ENOUGH TO PULL DIVER

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