The first wave powered autonomous marine robot, called “Papa Mau”, has completed a 9,000 nautical mile (16,668 kilometers) scientific journey across the Pacific Ocean to set a new world record for the longest distance travelled by an autonomous vehicle.
Throughout its journey, Papa Mau navigated along a prescribed route under autonomous control collecting and transmitting unprecedented amounts of high-resolution ocean data never before available over these vast distances or timeframes.
During the robot’s journey, it weathered gale force storms, fended off sharks, spent more than 365 days at sea, skirted around the Great Barrier Reef and finally surfed the East Australian Current (EAC) to reach its final destination in Hervey Bay near Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia.
It travelled through and measured over 1200 miles of a chlorophyll bloom along the Equatorial Pacific. These blooms indicate proliferation of phytoplankton that is fundamental to ocean life and climate regulation. While typically monitored through satellite imagery direct validation of chlorophyll blooms at this resolution provides a groundbreaking link between scientific modelling and in-situ measurement of the Pacific Ocean.
To say we are excited and proud of Papa Mau reaching his final destination is an understatement,” said Bill Vass, CEO of Liquid Robotics who built the robot. “We set off on the PacX (Pacific Crossing) journey to demonstrate that Wave Glider technology could not only survive the high seas and a journey of this length, but more importantly, collect and transmit ocean data in real-time from the most remote portions of the Pacific Ocean. We’ve demonstrated delivery of ocean data services through the most challenging ocean conditions. Mission accomplished.”