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Robotics

Autonomous Sea-Robot Survives Massive Typhoon 47

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the ride-the-wave dept.
jfruh (300774) writes Liquid Robotics and its Wave Glider line of autonomous seafaring robots became famous when Java inventor James Gosling left Google to join the company. Now one of its robots has passed an impressive real-world test, shrugging off a monster typhoon in the South China Sea that inflicted hundreds of millions of dollars of damage on the region.
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Autonomous Sea-Robot Survives Massive Typhoon

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  • by stonedead (2571785)
    The red background for this story reminds me of soylent news during those dark days of beta.
  • by jamesl (106902) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @12:30PM (#47516717)

    ... a two liter Coke bottle survived a massive typhoon.

  • Next up: Sun rises, lemmings panic.

    • by Falos (2905315)
      This just in,
      A competitor claims to have not just reproduced the technology, but improved upon it. Preliminary reports suggest the new design is cheaper, but performs the same typhoon-survival response.

      http://www.superdairyboytoys.c... [superdairyboytoys.com]
  • Seeing photos of these always reminds me of Hal Clement's hard SF short story ``The Mechanic'' --- still copyrighted though, so not at: http://www.unz.org/Pub/AnalogS... [unz.org]

    Well worth tracking down a copy of the book _Space Lash_ to read it though.

  • by Zebai (979227) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @12:36PM (#47516769)

    Am I only one who doesn't think this is all that impressive? A manned ship surviving, yes, a stationary building surviving yes, but a unmanned sealed drone that has no problem being submerged in the water with nothing to collide against it without need to stay upright? I could achieve similar results as this drone by putting some gear in a steel container and letting throwing it out to sea. Its other purposes aside "shrugging" off a storm of any size should be trivial for such an object.

    • Am I only one who doesn't think this is all that impressive? A manned ship surviving, yes, a stationary building surviving yes, but a unmanned sealed drone that has no problem being submerged in the water with nothing to collide against it without need to stay upright? I could achieve similar results as this drone by putting some gear in a steel container and letting throwing it out to sea. Its other purposes aside "shrugging" off a storm of any size should be trivial for such an object.

      Well, James Gosling was mentioned, so that's pretty impressive, right?

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Well, James Gosling was mentioned, so that's pretty impressive, right?

        You know, I've been trying to figure out WTF that mention was all about.

        So far, I've got nothing other than it serves as a very oblique reference to 2011.

        As 'news' reporting, I rank that right up there with "in 1984, the same year Sally Baker showed me her underwear, there was a chemical leak in Bhopal India".

        It's just spurious junk.

        Slashdot continues to decline, and the 'editors' continue to be a joke.

    • by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @12:48PM (#47516859)

      No, it doesn't impress me but for different reasons.

      Surviving a typhoon on the surface is none trivial for any vessel of any size. Waves are no fun at all during a storm of that size. I think you underestimate how well the equipment in the steel container would have to be hardened. Its not unusual to suddenly fall a hundred feet or more, only to smack into water which is rapidly raising as you run into it. Imagine repeatedly being dropped from 100 feet or more into a pool for hours on end. Thats what being in a hurricane is like. Unless you're an experience engineer, I doubt you'd make something that survived without several tries.

      On the other hand, for a submersible? Meh, not impressive. Dive below and it gets calm fairly quickly. The surface waves of a storm like that don't have that great of an effect on the ocean bottom at sufficient depth. The direct effects of the waves themselves end at about one half the wave length below the wave troughs. Indirect effects are probably worse though, and those can extend down to 300-400 feet.

      If the water is deep enough and the USV can dive deep enough, its trivial to wait it out. A submarine for instance has little fear of a hurricane unless its stuck trying to get out of port because they waited too long.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, it's not the storm surge itself at depth. It's the risk of being driven off course or even smacking into things. Nothing says I love you like having a storm surge smack you into rocks at 150 feet down. (There are good reasons divers are supposed to check the weather before they dive!!!)

      • You mean like this [minitruckinweb.com] ?

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        If the water is deep enough and the USV can dive deep enough, its trivial to wait it out. A submarine for instance has little fear of a hurricane unless its stuck trying to get out of port because they waited too long.

        Except, the difference in this case is this thing is at the surface.

        Which means it couldn't dive to wait it out.

        It's submerged, but only a little, and it has a mast sticking out of the water.

        So, how trivial is it to ride this out when you're barely under the water? It seems less so.

        • by Thud457 (234763)
          What good is an autonomous submersible on a full moon night in the Rocky Mountain winter? This whole story is ridiculous.
      • No, it doesn't impress me but for different reasons.

        Surviving a typhoon on the surface is none trivial for any vessel of any size. Waves are no fun at all during a storm of that size. I think you underestimate how well the equipment in the steel container would have to be hardened. Its not unusual to suddenly fall a hundred feet or more, only to smack into water which is rapidly raising as you run into it. Imagine repeatedly being dropped from 100 feet or more into a pool for hours on end. Thats what being in a hurricane is like. Unless you're an experience engineer, I doubt you'd make something that survived without several tries.

        On the other hand, for a submersible? Meh, not impressive. Dive below and it gets calm fairly quickly. The surface waves of a storm like that don't have that great of an effect on the ocean bottom at sufficient depth. The direct effects of the waves themselves end at about one half the wave length below the wave troughs. Indirect effects are probably worse though, and those can extend down to 300-400 feet.

        If the water is deep enough and the USV can dive deep enough, its trivial to wait it out. A submarine for instance has little fear of a hurricane unless its stuck trying to get out of port because they waited too long.

        It's not designed to be a submersible.

      • On the other hand, for a submersible? Meh, not impressive. Dive below and it gets calm fairly quickly.

        Since it isn't a submersible and didn't (couldn't) dive, your point would be what? That you can't be bothered to read TFA, instead making assumptions and then treating them as facts?

      • by ljw1004 (764174)

        I don't think WaveGlider is a submersible. It's a surface-vessel, with solar panels!, and with energy-generating fins in its keel. Wikipedia explains: "The Wave Glider is composed of two parts: the float is roughly the size and shape of a surfboard and stays at the surface; the sub has wings and hangs 6 meters below on an umbilical tether"

        http://imgur.com/nfdHsn2 [imgur.com]

        So yes, it's impressive as heck that the WaveGlider survived a typhoon. The float part of it will be tossed around like crazy on top of the waves.

      • Same as if a well trained diver in a dry-suit decided to ride out a hurricane. If he had a re-breather system and enough O2 and other gases to sustain the system - maybe drop a line bristling with tanks a little ways down? Leave enough slack between the buoy the tanks and you and maybe you can swap when needed? He could adjust his buoyancy to stay just below the crazy weather and read a water-proofed Kindle. Well, that and he might want to coat whatever exposed flesh he has to the water with petroleum or si

        • I had a similar experience in the South China Sea a while back, the dive was fine but then inbound hurricane made getting back in the boat a chore; I got some really good bruises out of that one.
      • by dbc (135354)

        It is impressive. First off, most of the waveglider is on the surface. It has a passive submerged propusion unit on a cable. Secondly, it has a lot of sophisticated electronics and antennas in and on the surface unit. It survived a nasty test very, very well. Maybe the reason I am extremely impressed and you are not has to do with the fact that I actually build robots, and you don't have a clue about what it takes to build something that can live in an office for 6 months without breaking, much less on

      • The thing of note here is that this vehicle is half surface and half submersible. There is the top section that is mostly a surfboard with solar panels and a bottom section that hangs down about 7m and has a bunch of wings on it. So the fact that it didn't get torn apart or tangled up is impressive.
    • No-one that knows anything about mechanics would be impressed. It would be pretty sad if any sort of weather could hard your under-water RC boat. Even Babies have survived rides in Tornadoes after all.

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      You are not alone at all. Forget gear and steel.... take a small glass bottle, put a piece of paper in it. Nobody will be all that shocked to find it, in tact, years from now, after surviving many such storms. There really is nothing impressive about building a small floating container that can continue to float after being shaken up....even if you have equipment inside.

    • by perpenso (1613749)

      Am I only one who doesn't think this is all that impressive? A manned ship surviving, yes, ...

      I knew someone who served on a Fletcher class destroyer in WW2. They survived a typhoon that claimed several other ships. He said the typhoon scared the crew more than combat, and this was a crew that had seen combat from Guadalcanal to Japan. He also said they would spend their last dollar buying a beer for any worker at the Bath Iron Works in Maine, the shipyard that built their ship.

    • by hey! (33014)

      Well, you are unlikely to be the *only* one who doesn't think this is all that impressive, because you're unlikely to be the only one who didn't read the article or looking up the device on the company's website [liquidr.com].

      The robot in question is designed to capture energy from surface waves for propulsion. So it is not a deep submersible, it waddles along a six meters below the surface, tethered to a streamlined surface buoy that it drags along and uses to capture wave energy. Making it through a major storm is a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @01:05PM (#47516967)

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_Robotics
    "The Wave Glider is composed of two parts: the float is roughly the size and shape of a surfboard and stays at the surface; the sub has wings and hangs 6 meters below on an umbilical tether. Because of the separation, the float experiences more wave motion than does the sub. This difference allows wave energy to be harvested to produce forward thrust."

    If the unit were totally submerged a couple of hundred feet then, yes, a typhoon going by overhead would be nothing to worry about. But according to the wiki that's not the case...I'm surprised the sub and the float didn't get pulled apart.

    • the above should be ranked up.
      the guy thinking it not impressive should be ranked down down and the guy thinking it not impressive because it could dive clearly hasn't done his homework, ah /.

  • Also survived the typhoon:
    floating hypodermic needles & other man-made trash
    plastic beach ball someone threw into the ocean a year ago
    a message in a bottle
    coconuts

    They make it sound like it's a big deal, but the long story short: a floating metal tube designed to be in water survived being splashed with water. That is not an accomplishment. If there were people on this metal tube and they survived, that would have been an accomplishment.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Bing Tsher E (943915)

      But this was a floating metal tube containing electronics and running software as fragile as Java.

      • Well if it's running Java then I am impressed. Then again maybe the GC was running for the duration of the storm, and not even Java could sink it.
      • No no no .. if software was physically tangible; the weight of the java code would have made the thing sink to the ocean floor -- and possibly into the earth's core.

  • The WaveGlider when deployed does not look like the photo. This is the stowed configuration, which is how it is put into the water. They haven't actually deployed it yet.

    The top surfboard-y part floats. The bottom part with the vanes is a ways below it, and isn't buoyant. (The motive power comes from the fact that the vanes get pulled up and down by the buoyant part -- the distance is necessary for it to work.)

    So, the fact that the buoyant and dense parts didn't separate, and their connecting cables d

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