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Seafaring boffin bots in record-breaking bid to chart Pacific

Wave-powered robo-boat probes launched by Java granddaddy

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James Gosling's wave-powered robot company has launched four bots on a record-breaking epic across the Pacific.

Liquid Robotics unleashed the Wave Gliders from San Francisco Bay on November 17, on what it claimed will be the longest journey ever attempted by an unmanned ocean vehicle. Liquid Robotics is shooting for a Guinness World Record.

The 'bots are on a 33,000 nautical-mile year-long journey across some of the roughest waters on the planet to collect 2.25 million data points on the state of the Pacific. The gliders will gather information on salinity, water temperature, waves, weather, fluorescence, and levels of dissolved oxygen.

One pair of 'bots are heading to Japan, traversing the Mariana Trench, while the others are going down under, to Australia.

Data from the quest is being made available free of charge, and in real time to scientists, educators, students, and general public. You can register to see the data here.

The Waver Gliders feature a small table-sized surface float with power coming from a grid of vanes attached below the surface of the water. 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, the father of Java, joined Liquid Robotics as chief software architect in August, from Google. He'd only been with Google since March, having just left Oracle. At the time, Gosling said he looked forward to working on a variety of issues in the systems at Liquid Robotics. ®

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