Feeds

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

Tin fish limps home after deep-sea gobblement attempt

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
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
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.