On November 17th, at San Francisco's St. Francis Yacht Club, Liquid Robotics launched four Wave Gliders on a record-setting journey across the Pacific Ocean - the longest distance ever attempted by an unmanned ocean vehicle.
The purpose of this unprecedented Pacific crossing is to foster new scientific discoveries in ocean science by making available vast amounts of ocean da"ta collected and transmitted globally during the Wave Gliders' yearlong journey. Liquid Robotics and Ocean in Google Earth are providing a platform for the world to follow the expedition virtually, while Virgin Oceanic and Liquid Robotics will jointly explore the Mariana Trench.
The four Wave Gliders are expected to collect approximately 2.25 million discrete data points, and take more than 300 days to complete their voyage. During their voyage, they will transmit valuable ocean data on salinity, water temperature, waves, weather, fluorescence, and dissolved oxygen.
Throughout their journey, the Wave Gliders will build an enormous data set, provided free of charge and in real-time, to the world's scientists, educators, students, and the general public. Liquid Robotics is making this data available to anyone who registers.
During their 33,000 nautical mile journey, the Wave Gliders will travel across some of the world's most challenging environments. The Wave Gliders will begin their journey together to Hawaii, and then split into pairs, one pair continuing to Japan (over the Mariana Trench, where Virgin Oceanic will complete the first of its Five Deep Dives) and the other pair to Australia.
When they reach their final destinations, the Wave Gliders will have earned a Guinness World Record for the longest voyage completed by an unmanned ocean vessel.
Liquid Robotics has made this investment to not only demonstrate the endurance of Wave Gliders, but more importantly, to ignite everyone's imagination on what can be discovered and explored when the ocean is networked with sensors. We encourage everyone who has a passion for the ocean to participate in the journey.
Chris Welsh, Virgin Oceanic co-founder and pilot, said: "At Virgin Oceanic, our mission is taking the next step in human exploration to the last frontier - the very bottom of our seas. I will be piloting to the bottom of the Mariana Trench to explore the deepest point of the Pacific Ocean. Wave Gliders are one of the most promising solutions for major, low cost, long-range ocean exploration. I look forward to seeing the results as their Wave Gliders cross over the Mariana Trench, which is our first major dive location. I applaud Liquid Robotics as they launch their Wave Gliders on the PacX grand challenge and join us in exploring our vast oceans."
Jenifer Austin Foulkes, Ocean in Google Earth manager, said: "Most of the ocean remains unexplored with less than 10 percent of it mapped out. This expedition creates an opportunity for students, marine researchers, and aspiring oceanographers to follow these brave Liquid Robotics ocean robots as they cross the Pacific virtually through the Ocean Showcase on the Google Earth website. They can also check back daily in Google Earth to see the latest posts from scientists communicating weather and climate data back from these 'R2D2s' of the sea."
Follow robotic wave gliders on a record setting Pacific crossing in Google Earth