Shark Attacks Liquid Robotics' Wave-Powered Robot

shark circling photo

Photo by Stormy Dog via Flickr CC

It's a case of mistaken identity... at least, we think. Start-up Liquid Robotics was making the news earlier this month for the millions they raised in Series D fundraising for their solar- and wave-powered robots built for ocean monitoring. But this week the news is about something slightly more toothy. A shark seems to have taken a liking, or rather disliking, to one of the deployed units. According to the Wall Street Journal, Liquid Robotics received a message from a robot that something seemed amiss. The pilot directed the robot to return to port and when it returned, the team found its underwater glider had some tell-tale teeth marks. A large shark with a roughly 12 to 14-inch bite, tried to make a meal of the unit.

It's a very rare incidence -- the company's 60 robots have completed over 150,000 miles at sea without a run-in with sharks before. And the attack is quite minor, as the unit is already on another mission in the Gulf.

"How often in a start-up do you get to say, 'a shark just attacked my robot," Vass told the Wall Street Journal.

Here is Bill Vass showing the marks in the robot.

Liquid Robotics' Wave Gliders are able to stay at sea for months and even years at a time to collect data for various purposes, such as measuring water quality in the Gulf for BP or monitoring radiation levels in the waters off Japan, or even tracking ships and submarines. They rely on wave power to propel forward, and solar power to keep the electronics working. They're an ideal solution for cheap, effective monitoring of what's happening in, and to, the ocean. But sadly for the sharks, they don't make a very good meal.

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