Wave- and Solar-Powered Ocean-Based Robot Earns $22 Million in Funding
Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch
A unique robotic, water based device that is said to be completely clean energy powered has garnered its maker, Liquid Robotics, a good deal of start up funding to help further finance its development. Wave Glider is the name of the device and the funding is to the tune of $22 million in Series D financing.
The Wave Glider, according to Liquid Robotics, is self-powered hybrid sea-surface/underwater robotic vehicle that makes available what is described as an autonomous operating platform that can provide uses in ocean observation, data collection, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The Glider is powered by the up-and-down motion of waves that are converted into energy for forward thrust via the device's design.
The configuration of the robotics unit consists of a submerged glider with wing-shaped panels and surface float joined by a 7-meter tether. It isn't a fast moving device, topping out at two knots, but it isn't designed to win races either. Rather, it is envisioned as a device that "can travel to a distant area, collect and transmit data in real time [via satellite or short range radio], and then return for maintenance without ever requiring a ship to leave port."
Besides wave energy to move the Wave Glider, integrated solar panels can be used to power battery charging, onboard electronics and payloads. Liquid Robotics said it is currently testing the Glider in a variety of scenarios, such as being used for scientific research by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and several premier oceanographic facilities such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and theUniversity of Hawaii.
It is also being field tested for commercial operations such as in offshore oil and gas exploration, and for a variety of national security uses.