Feeds

'A SHARK attacked my ROBOT', gasps ex-Sun exec

Tin fish limps home after deep-sea gobblement attempt

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A robot from a startup company helmed by a former Sun Microsystems executive was attacked by a shark in the Gulf of Mexico recently, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal has the story, recounting the tale of machine versus elasmobranch as told to it by Bill Vass, late of Sun. Vass is nowadays CEO of Liquid Robotics, a firm offering the services of its ocean-prowling "Wave Glider" survey robots.

“How often in a start-up do you get to say, ‘a shark just attacked my robot?” asks Vass.

At least once in his case, is the answer. Vass tells the WSJ that one of its Wave Gliders, cruising a hundred miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico on behalf of BP this spring, suddenly reported that all was not well. Summoned back the base, the damaged robot was found to have bite marks in it.

“It was attacked by a shark with about a 12 to 14-inch size bite from the shape of the tooth marks on the gliders fins,” says Vass.

The Wave Gliders feature a small-table-sized surface float attached to a grid of vanes below the surface, not dissimilar in design to the assemblies used to spread fishing nets or minesweeping gear - but designed with articulated vanes so as to act in the same direction when pulled up and down through the water.

As waves lift and drop the float, the vanes are forced up and down, generating forward thrust which propels the robot along without the need for any other power source. Electricity generated by solar panels on the float is used for communications, payload and guidance by satellite navigation.

A Wave Glider, like certain other types of unmanned watercraft, can cover lengthy distances at sea effectively unsupervised and at low cost compared to normal mobile seagoing platforms, transmitting data back to base all the while. In tests, the cunning robots have travelled from Hawaii to San Diego.

Admittedly it now turns out that they can be taken off task by shark attacks - the glider's sensor payload was apparently knocked out of whack by the hungry shark earlier this year, hence the need for a return to base - but Vass says this is rare. Liquid Robotics has suffered only the one nibble incident so far, he says, in 150,000 miles of glider operations. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.