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Ocean Robots Upgraded After Logging 300,000 Miles 21

kkleiner writes "Liquid Robotics first generation of wave gliders have successfully navigated from the U.S. to Australia, surviving numerous hurricanes. Now, the next generation of autonomous robots have been outfitted with thrusters that supplement the wave-energy harvesting technology that they use to move. They also are equipped with a weather station and sensors to collect even more data on the ocean. Currently, over 100 missions are in operation around the world."
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Ocean Robots Upgraded After Logging 300,000 Miles

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  • First wave! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Posted by Autonomous Coward!

  • by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:13PM (#43412943)

    The White House will not confirm whether these unmanned underwater drones are being used to take out Atlantian terrorists.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:14PM (#43412965) Journal []

    The Silicon Valley-based company yesterday [March 19, 2013] raised $45 million in a series E round to grow the companyâ(TM)s sales and services around what it calls âoehigh-value ocean data servicesâ in research, defense, and oil and gas exploration.

    They seem to have a really good thing going and I'm glad the recession hasn't crippled their business.

  • by sackbut ( 1922510 ) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:19PM (#43413011)
    They also do some very interesting projects with the Waveriders and with cetacean (whale) research at the You can listen live to whale sounds coming from Hawaii []. The Waveridrers were actually a spinoff from the original Jupiter Foundation.
  • by stevegee58 ( 1179505 ) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:20PM (#43413037) Journal
    Imagine being able to deliver guns, drugs and other contraband using these things. Just beach it at pre-arranged GPS coordinates on some remote shore and the recipient can pick it up.
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @12:27PM (#43413115)
    A private company receives [] somewhere less than $90 million in funding (half which was received last month) and manages to create a new type of cheap sea-based platform and currently has over a hundred of them active.

    In contrast, the typical space probe is a hideously expensive, one-off design made by people who have no interest in reducing the cost of the platform. In the past, I've advocated developing space probes in batches or iterative generations instead. This is an example of why.

    There are some obvious differences. Space is much more expensive to access at $5-10k per kg just to reach low Earth orbit. While these guys can just drive up to a beach. Space also is a harsher environment. It doesn't have full time exposure to sea water, but it does have hard radiation, temperature extremes, and heat dissipation issues.

    Even so, this is how you do things economically. Making multiple copies of a probe design means that you spread out R&D costs over more probes - R&D is a large cost currently of space probes. You also get "learning curve" effects where the marginal cost of manufacturing, operation, and management of probes goes down as you make and deploy more of them. You "learn" (or rather exploit various economies of scale for these processes) how to do this better.

    End result is more probes and more work done for the same amount of money spent.
    • Well, the difference is that such sea transports are meant to be practically usable fairly soon, whereas the space exploration is not expected to pay for itself in a foreseeable future -- it exists only, because enough taxpayers view space-travel as interesting.

      This leads me, a Libertarian, to think, NASA (except for its military parts) ought to be financed not by taxes (which are collected at gunpoint), but by donations. This will make it responsible not to Congressmen seeking to "fund jobs" in their dis

      • by khallow ( 566160 )
        Or we, being libertarian, could consider private side approaches. While space-based private exploration and science is in its infancy, it's worth noting that it is done.

        For example, the Planetary Society has several projects [] cooking. I don't agree with the ideological baggage that comes attached (they're uncritical boosters of NASA's unmanned science program), but at least they practice what they preach. One could do worse than send them some money.

        There's also a large number of non profits developing
    • by necro81 ( 917438 )
      There are several additional aspects of space design that make it difficult and expensive compared to these ocean drones:
      1. * Launch costs are so high that you need to make sure, damn sure, that your space probe works reliably. You don't want to a faulty $2 component to ruin a $100 million launch. Also, because launch costs are so high, you want your space probe to last for a looong time in orbit. So you test everything like mad, which costs money, and chose high-reliability components that have also been
      • by khallow ( 566160 )
        It's worth noting that many of those costs go down when you reuse a proven vehicle. If you've demonstrated via the last three launches that your vehicle plays well with others, you don't need to dump a bunch of money to prove it again.

        That's not the only fixed cost you mention. Many of these very expensive costs can be spread out over more vehicles.

        Launch costs are another area where costs can be reduced. Launch frequency is an economy of scale for any working launch vehicle ever made (just due to the
        • by khallow ( 566160 )
          As an aside, my approach would have generated 6 additional launches by 2008 for the Delta II that already had 34 launches between 2004 and 2008.
  • I figured they were talking about hardware updates since even miles under the ocean, in the pitch black, Windows Update will find you and make you upgrade and reboot :-P
  • How about a fleet of autonomous wave energy harvesting robots that collect trash in the ocean?
  • Years ago I watched a documentary where scientists determined that dolphins (maybe sharks too?) were migrating much further than should have been possible with the amount of food they were eating. They figured out they were also using some kind of wave-powered cruise mode, but I can't recall how the mechanics of it worked. I tried a while back to look it up but couldn't find anything. This ring a bell w/ anyone?

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10