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Father of Java abandons Google for floating robot cloud

Fun times ahoy, cries newly nautical Gosling

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Father of Java James Gosling has quit Google and turned his back on tier-one tech companies altogether by joining a California start-up which makes unmanned ocean-going robots.

Gosling is becoming chief software architect for Liquid Robotics, whose Wave Gliders cruise hundreds of miles offshore scooping up oceanic data – and which occasionally become shark food. Wave Gliders are used by US research institutes, the government and private sector customers. The company is also building a cloud which it is currently populating with oceanic data from its aquabots, and which it is making available to others as a service.

Gosling said he will continue working on the clone army's software for sensing, navigation and automation, and also on equipping the data centre to deal with the flood of data the machines send home.

"The current systems work well, but they have a variety of issues that I look forward to working on," Gosling said. "This is going to be a lot of fun."

The flat Wave Gliders feature a small-table-sized surface float attached to a grid of vanes below the surface. The vanes move up and down as waves lift and drop the robot, producing forward motion. Electricity for the onboard communications, guidance and back-up systems is generated by solar panels on the top of the Glider.

Gosling joins Liquid Robotics having only joined Google in March in the wake of Oracle's acquisition of his former employer Sun Microsystems – the company where he created Java in the mid-1990s. Java is now one of the world's most popular programming languages.

Gosling blogged on Tuesday that he was surprised to have left Google so soon, but: "I met some folks outside doing something completely outrageous, and after much anguish decided to leave Google."

On joining Google, Gosling had said the hardest thing had been in turning down "a bunch of other excellent possibilities". Like many before him, Gosling has succumbed to the lure of the ocean.

At Liquid Robotics, Gosling joins fellow Sun alumnus Bill Vass, company chief executive who'd served as president and chief operating officer of Sun's government business. Vass started at the venture-funded Liquid Robotics in June. Vass said in a statement: "James is one of the best software engineers in the industry and will help us revolutionize global oceanic knowledge on a scale and dimension unknown in history." ®

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