Sunday, October 03, 2010

U.S. Prize Winner May Hold Promise for UNESCO Tsunami Warning System

Liquid Robotics Inc., based in Sunnyvale, Calif., won the Wall Street Journal Technology Award in the category of Robotics for developing an unmanned seagoing craft propelled by the power of ocean waves. According to the WSJ:
Most unmanned ocean craft can remain at sea for only a short time, relying on batteries to power propellers or pumps. The heavier their payload, the less time they have.

Thanks to its propulsion system, Liquid Robotics' Wave Glider avoids those limits.

The craft, which consists of a surface buoy and a submerged glider with wing-shaped panels, converts the up-and-down motion of waves into forward thrust, making it possible to propel the buoy indefinitely without relying on batteries or other power sources.

The craft can be controlled remotely via satellite over an Internet connection. Instruments are powered by a solar panel on the surface of the floating buoy.
The technology should be of interest to UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, since it can be used for be used for observing weather and ocean conditions. Since it can also be used to monitor tsunamis, it could be especially interesting to the IOC Tsunami Program which supports Member States in improving capabilities for tsunami risk assessment, implementing early warning systems and enhancing preparedness of communities at risk.

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