Liquid Robotics, a developer of long-duration unmanned ocean robots, has announced that one of its Wave Glider unmanned surface vessels swam 2,808 nautical miles (5200 km) to the Big Island of Hawaii after successfully completing a 4-month patrol mission of the Pitcairn Island Marine Sanctuary for the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). This achievement represents a fundamental enabling capability for unmanned systems as it proves the feasibility and flexibility of autonomous mission deployment. Using the Wave Glider platform, Liquid Robotics’ customers are able to deploy sensors in the most remote marine locations without sending a large ship for recovery. This opens up large expanses of the ocean that once were previously inaccessible due to the high cost and risk of deploying manned vessels for research, commerce, or defense.
The Wave Glider began its mission on November 27, 2015 in the South Pacific, where it helped the UK FCO protect the Pitcairn Island Marine Sanctuary against illegal fishing activities. After successfully completing its mission, the Wave Glider was remotely piloted more than 2,808 nautical miles (5200 km) — through strong equatorial currents, doldrums, and challenging sea states — back to port in Hawaii. Along the way, it collected 9,516 measurements of meteorological, oceanographic, and marine biodiversity data over expanses rarely traveled. This data was recently used to support the worldwide Fishackathon, a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State to promote innovative ways to stop illegal and unregulated fishing. Altogether, the Wave Glider was continuously at sea, untouched, for 213 days while traveling a total of 7,205 nautical miles (13,344 km).
“The Wave Glider’s ability to travel to and from remote mission areas is a real game changer for our customers,” said Roger Hine, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer. “This enables them to collect real-time data from previously inaccessible waters without the expense of manned deployment or recovery missions. This is an incredibly powerful tool for helping our customers capitalize new opportunities at sea.”