A few months ago James Gosling turned up at Liquid Robotics. Liquid Robotics designs robots called Wave Gliders that collect sensor data while wandering the seas. Rowboat sized, they raft along on the surface propelled by an underwater sled which translates vertical wave action into thrust. Solar powered, they are self-sufficient and able travel thousands of miles while transmitting data.
Yesterday Liquid Robotics announced its Pacific Crossing (PacX) Challenge. Four Wave Gliders will launch from California trying to travel the longest distance at sea ever attempted by unmanned marine vehicles. The Gliders will fan out targeting destinations in Japan and Australia. While at sea, they will transmit readings on salinity, water temperature, waves, weather, fluorescence and dissolved oxygen.
So this is cool. But it gets better. Wave Glider data will be made available in near real-time to anyone interested. The only requirement is to register at the Liquid Robotics web site.
To compete for the PacX Challenge prize, contestants submit a one-page abstract outlining what science they will perform with the data from the voyage. A panel of ocean scientists will select the winner, who will get to help define the next Wave Glider mission.
It is not surprising that James Gosling is involved. James' interest in this area goes back many years. In 2005 he gave the Duke Award at JavaOne to an Agilent-Sun-SF State team deploying oceanographic sensors in San Francisco Bay. Called Netbeams, the project collected data using the Java Distributed Data Acquisition and Control Network along with the Romberg Tiberon Center's legacy devices. The goal was to send data real-time to the net via an inexpensive cellular family plan.
Now we see transoceanic Wave Glider robots sailing out boldly to take data where no data has been taken before. Bon voyage, Wave Gliders!