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Autonomous Sea-Robot Survives Massive Typhoon

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the ride-the-wave dept.

Robotics 47

jfruh (300774) writes Liquid Robotics and its Wave Glider line of autonomous seafaring robots became famous when Java inventor James Gosling left Google to join the company. Now one of its robots has passed an impressive real-world test, shrugging off a monster typhoon in the South China Sea that inflicted hundreds of millions of dollars of damage on the region.

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Soylent News (2, Funny)

stonedead (2571785) | about 4 months ago | (#47516705)

The red background for this story reminds me of soylent news during those dark days of beta.

In other news ... (4, Funny)

jamesl (106902) | about 4 months ago | (#47516717)

... a two liter Coke bottle survived a massive typhoon.

Small object survives big waves in open ocean. BFD (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516753)

Next up: Sun rises, lemmings panic.

Re:Small object survives big waves in open ocean. (1)

Falos (2905315) | about 4 months ago | (#47516913)

This just in,
A competitor claims to have not just reproduced the technology, but improved upon it. Preliminary reports suggest the new design is cheaper, but performs the same typhoon-survival response.

http://www.superdairyboytoys.c... [superdairyboytoys.com]

Re:Small object survives big waves in open ocean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47519249)

Next up: Sun rises, lemmings panic, join Republican Party.

FTFY

Anyone else reminded of Hal Clement's short story? (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 4 months ago | (#47516767)

Seeing photos of these always reminds me of Hal Clement's hard SF short story ``The Mechanic'' --- still copyrighted though, so not at: http://www.unz.org/Pub/AnalogS... [unz.org]

Well worth tracking down a copy of the book _Space Lash_ to read it though.

Re:Anyone else reminded of Hal Clement's short sto (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 4 months ago | (#47516839)

Or buying _The Essential Hal Clement, Volume 2: Music of Many Spheres_

Is this an achievement? (4, Insightful)

Zebai (979227) | about 4 months ago | (#47516769)

Am I only one who doesn't think this is all that impressive? A manned ship surviving, yes, a stationary building surviving yes, but a unmanned sealed drone that has no problem being submerged in the water with nothing to collide against it without need to stay upright? I could achieve similar results as this drone by putting some gear in a steel container and letting throwing it out to sea. Its other purposes aside "shrugging" off a storm of any size should be trivial for such an object.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 4 months ago | (#47516847)

Am I only one who doesn't think this is all that impressive? A manned ship surviving, yes, a stationary building surviving yes, but a unmanned sealed drone that has no problem being submerged in the water with nothing to collide against it without need to stay upright? I could achieve similar results as this drone by putting some gear in a steel container and letting throwing it out to sea. Its other purposes aside "shrugging" off a storm of any size should be trivial for such an object.

Well, James Gosling was mentioned, so that's pretty impressive, right?

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47516955)

Well, James Gosling was mentioned, so that's pretty impressive, right?

You know, I've been trying to figure out WTF that mention was all about.

So far, I've got nothing other than it serves as a very oblique reference to 2011.

As 'news' reporting, I rank that right up there with "in 1984, the same year Sally Baker showed me her underwear, there was a chemical leak in Bhopal India".

It's just spurious junk.

Slashdot continues to decline, and the 'editors' continue to be a joke.

Re:Is this an achievement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47517657)

And now you've managed to pull poor Sally Baker into it.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#47519447)

She was already part of it, Sally Baker is his mother.

Re:Is this an achievement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47519031)

in 1984, the same year Sally Baker showed me her underwear

go on...

Re:Is this an achievement? (4, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 months ago | (#47516859)

No, it doesn't impress me but for different reasons.

Surviving a typhoon on the surface is none trivial for any vessel of any size. Waves are no fun at all during a storm of that size. I think you underestimate how well the equipment in the steel container would have to be hardened. Its not unusual to suddenly fall a hundred feet or more, only to smack into water which is rapidly raising as you run into it. Imagine repeatedly being dropped from 100 feet or more into a pool for hours on end. Thats what being in a hurricane is like. Unless you're an experience engineer, I doubt you'd make something that survived without several tries.

On the other hand, for a submersible? Meh, not impressive. Dive below and it gets calm fairly quickly. The surface waves of a storm like that don't have that great of an effect on the ocean bottom at sufficient depth. The direct effects of the waves themselves end at about one half the wave length below the wave troughs. Indirect effects are probably worse though, and those can extend down to 300-400 feet.

If the water is deep enough and the USV can dive deep enough, its trivial to wait it out. A submarine for instance has little fear of a hurricane unless its stuck trying to get out of port because they waited too long.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516919)

Yeah, it's not the storm surge itself at depth. It's the risk of being driven off course or even smacking into things. Nothing says I love you like having a storm surge smack you into rocks at 150 feet down. (There are good reasons divers are supposed to check the weather before they dive!!!)

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47516943)

You mean like this [minitruckinweb.com] ?

Re:Is this an achievement? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47517185)

If the water is deep enough and the USV can dive deep enough, its trivial to wait it out. A submarine for instance has little fear of a hurricane unless its stuck trying to get out of port because they waited too long.

Except, the difference in this case is this thing is at the surface.

Which means it couldn't dive to wait it out.

It's submerged, but only a little, and it has a mast sticking out of the water.

So, how trivial is it to ride this out when you're barely under the water? It seems less so.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 4 months ago | (#47517781)

What good is an autonomous submersible on a full moon night in the Rocky Mountain winter? This whole story is ridiculous.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 4 months ago | (#47517271)

No, it doesn't impress me but for different reasons.

Surviving a typhoon on the surface is none trivial for any vessel of any size. Waves are no fun at all during a storm of that size. I think you underestimate how well the equipment in the steel container would have to be hardened. Its not unusual to suddenly fall a hundred feet or more, only to smack into water which is rapidly raising as you run into it. Imagine repeatedly being dropped from 100 feet or more into a pool for hours on end. Thats what being in a hurricane is like. Unless you're an experience engineer, I doubt you'd make something that survived without several tries.

On the other hand, for a submersible? Meh, not impressive. Dive below and it gets calm fairly quickly. The surface waves of a storm like that don't have that great of an effect on the ocean bottom at sufficient depth. The direct effects of the waves themselves end at about one half the wave length below the wave troughs. Indirect effects are probably worse though, and those can extend down to 300-400 feet.

If the water is deep enough and the USV can dive deep enough, its trivial to wait it out. A submarine for instance has little fear of a hurricane unless its stuck trying to get out of port because they waited too long.

It's not designed to be a submersible.

Re:Is this an achievement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47517473)

On the other hand, for a submersible? Meh, not impressive. Dive below and it gets calm fairly quickly.

USV: Unmanned _Surface_ Vehicle
As opposed to AUV: Unmanned Underwater Vehicle
One reason that this is somewhat impressive is that it _doesn't_ dive. It stays at the surface with the exception of oversplash, etc.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 months ago | (#47517493)

On the other hand, for a submersible? Meh, not impressive. Dive below and it gets calm fairly quickly.

Since it isn't a submersible and didn't (couldn't) dive, your point would be what? That you can't be bothered to read TFA, instead making assumptions and then treating them as facts?

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | about 4 months ago | (#47517511)

I don't think WaveGlider is a submersible. It's a surface-vessel, with solar panels!, and with energy-generating fins in its keel. Wikipedia explains: "The Wave Glider is composed of two parts: the float is roughly the size and shape of a surfboard and stays at the surface; the sub has wings and hangs 6 meters below on an umbilical tether"

http://imgur.com/nfdHsn2 [imgur.com]

So yes, it's impressive as heck that the WaveGlider survived a typhoon. The float part of it will be tossed around like crazy on top of the waves. It will stay tethered to the float part underwater. The tether will be yanked every which way.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

spiritgreywolf (683532) | about 4 months ago | (#47517595)

Same as if a well trained diver in a dry-suit decided to ride out a hurricane. If he had a re-breather system and enough O2 and other gases to sustain the system - maybe drop a line bristling with tanks a little ways down? Leave enough slack between the buoy the tanks and you and maybe you can swap when needed? He could adjust his buoyancy to stay just below the crazy weather and read a water-proofed Kindle. Well, that and he might want to coat whatever exposed flesh he has to the water with petroleum or silicone goop. He might need a bag of fresh water, too - and god help him if he has to take a dump or whizz during the time he's in the water - but aside from those little complications? Meh.

Granted I assume a lot here since there was once I was going diving off the coast of Cancun - and OHMYFUCKINGGOD were the waves ridiculous. I was about to puke all over the deck till my dive buddy said "Don't stay on the boat - get in the water and go to about 8 feet. The desire to retch will subside. If you stay on the boat you'll only want to die." He was right. As soon as I was at about 8 feet it was serenity. I looked above to see the ladder to the boat leaving the water and plunging and saying to myself "wow, that's gonna be a fun ride coming back out of the water." The 76 minutes below were awesome - the 15 trying to get back into the boat? - The nausea came back with a vengeance and I blew chunks...

But it got me to thinking - anything able to get below the tossing waves should be perfectly fine to ride out a storm. It's being prepared to stay submerged that long and all the complications that entails - up to and including taking on enough nitrogen that even at 15 feet you may have to decompress a while (I don't remember if that would happen or not since 15 feet is the safety stop for rec diving? That and you could use mixed gasses at that depth that can be at times pure O2. But yeah, why not a dry suit with the right plumbing, a water-bag and protection for exposed flesh to the salt water? Hell, I'd do it on a dare just to see if I could do it - calm weather first, of course :-) Might be dark and lonely knowing you have a freaking typhoon right above your head in the blackest midnight. But what the hell, if the book is good I could float there forever.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | about 4 months ago | (#47518715)

I had a similar experience in the South China Sea a while back, the dive was fine but then inbound hurricane made getting back in the boat a chore; I got some really good bruises out of that one.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

spiritgreywolf (683532) | about 4 months ago | (#47518927)

Yeah, I got bashed up pretty good too - but I was just too damn nauseous to care :)

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

dbc (135354) | about 4 months ago | (#47517915)

It is impressive. First off, most of the waveglider is on the surface. It has a passive submerged propusion unit on a cable. Secondly, it has a lot of sophisticated electronics and antennas in and on the surface unit. It survived a nasty test very, very well. Maybe the reason I am extremely impressed and you are not has to do with the fact that I actually build robots, and you don't have a clue about what it takes to build something that can live in an office for 6 months without breaking, much less on the ocean in a major storm. As we say in the local robot club when some newbie comes with a grand scheme of how to solve all of our challenges: "Talk is cheap. Show me your working robot."

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

GonzoPhysicist (1231558) | about 4 months ago | (#47518461)

The thing of note here is that this vehicle is half surface and half submersible. There is the top section that is mostly a surfboard with solar panels and a bottom section that hangs down about 7m and has a bunch of wings on it. So the fact that it didn't get torn apart or tangled up is impressive.

Re:Is this an achievement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47521555)

>> Its not unusual to suddenly fall a hundred feet or more

Yes, it is unusual. TFA refers to 9 metre waves - which is about 30ft.

My father was caught in Typhoon Ruth on HMAS Sydney. They lost _some_ aircraft off the deck. 100ft waves would have rolled over the entire deck, and washed it clean.

Re:Is this an achievement? (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47516925)

No-one that knows anything about mechanics would be impressed. It would be pretty sad if any sort of weather could hard your under-water RC boat. Even Babies have survived rides in Tornadoes after all.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

GonzoPhysicist (1231558) | about 4 months ago | (#47518483)

Babies and boats don't have 7 meter umbilicals attached to what is basically an underwater sail.

Re:Is this an achievement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47517227)

It kind of is, actually. The system is not a completely submerged design. It operates at the surface, with a separate (but connected) underwater portion. The main body of the system remains on the surface, and does indeed need to remain upright. As another respondent pointed out, it's pretty tough out there on the surface as a typhoon passes, and the engineering that went into this system is a bit different from "putting some gear in a steel container."

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 4 months ago | (#47517755)

You are not alone at all. Forget gear and steel.... take a small glass bottle, put a piece of paper in it. Nobody will be all that shocked to find it, in tact, years from now, after surviving many such storms. There really is nothing impressive about building a small floating container that can continue to float after being shaken up....even if you have equipment inside.

Re:Is this an achievement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47517867)

The aquatic vehicle also likely runs in Java. it was probably too slow to process what was going on in the storm and thus just went with the flow.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 4 months ago | (#47517835)

Am I only one who doesn't think this is all that impressive? A manned ship surviving, yes, ...

I knew someone who served on a Fletcher class destroyer in WW2. They survived a typhoon that claimed several other ships. He said the typhoon scared the crew more than combat, and this was a crew that had seen combat from Guadalcanal to Japan. He also said they would spend their last dollar buying a beer for any worker at the Bath Iron Works in Maine, the shipyard that built their ship.

Re:Is this an achievement? (1)

hey! (33014) | about 4 months ago | (#47519351)

Well, you are unlikely to be the *only* one who doesn't think this is all that impressive, because you're unlikely to be the only one who didn't read the article or looking up the device on the company's website [liquidr.com] .

The robot in question is designed to capture energy from surface waves for propulsion. So it is not a deep submersible, it waddles along a six meters below the surface, tethered to a streamlined surface buoy that it drags along and uses to capture wave energy. Making it through a major storm is a significant proof-of-concept for such a system.

Re:Is this an achievement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47522309)

To be impressive, the drone needs to defeat a Buoy in armed combat. Otherwise, it appears they have too much overlap on the Venn Diagram of "floats and marks a spot" to build good street cred.

Or, we could just up-armor all those channel markers and add solar powered radios.

Obama is a traitor. Obama runs a baby-Stalin (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516787)

Obama is a traitor. Obama runs a baby-Stalin dictatorial regime. Obama is an imperial president. Obama and his regime are the enemies within. Obama and his regime are the enemies of faith, freedom, family and liberty. Obama has bought our LEOs and Military with Pay and Pension with Printed Fake Federal Reserve Notes. LEOs and Military should note that those FRNs are paper, but our freedom costs much blood. We need to end thus regime and most of the government needs to be re-chained as the Constitution wanted. All of the acolytes of Alinsky, Cloward and Piven should be arrested and imprisoned for their sedition, for their treason, for their utter evil.

Debt is Wealth. Ignorance is Strength. Freedom is Slavery. War is Peace. Cold is Warm.

you inse8sitive c%lod! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516799)

to keep up as Purposes *BSD is Of progress. GNAA (GAY NIGGER than 4 fraction percent of the *BSD study. [rice.edu] goals. It's when so that their

It's not submerged... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516967)

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_Robotics
"The Wave Glider is composed of two parts: the float is roughly the size and shape of a surfboard and stays at the surface; the sub has wings and hangs 6 meters below on an umbilical tether. Because of the separation, the float experiences more wave motion than does the sub. This difference allows wave energy to be harvested to produce forward thrust."

If the unit were totally submerged a couple of hundred feet then, yes, a typhoon going by overhead would be nothing to worry about. But according to the wiki that's not the case...I'm surprised the sub and the float didn't get pulled apart.

Re:It's not submerged... (1)

mynamestolen (2566945) | about 4 months ago | (#47521379)

the above should be ranked up.
the guy thinking it not impressive should be ranked down down and the guy thinking it not impressive because it could dive clearly hasn't done his homework, ah /.

Re:It's not submerged... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47521737)

Still not impressive, as the wavelengths would be long, very long relative to the vessel length, and thus the wave motions would be minimized (relatively).

big deal (0)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about 4 months ago | (#47517049)

Also survived the typhoon:
floating hypodermic needles & other man-made trash
plastic beach ball someone threw into the ocean a year ago
a message in a bottle
coconuts

They make it sound like it's a big deal, but the long story short: a floating metal tube designed to be in water survived being splashed with water. That is not an accomplishment. If there were people on this metal tube and they survived, that would have been an accomplishment.

Re:big deal (2, Funny)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 4 months ago | (#47517457)

But this was a floating metal tube containing electronics and running software as fragile as Java.

Re:big deal (1)

chuckugly (2030942) | about 4 months ago | (#47518725)

Well if it's running Java then I am impressed. Then again maybe the GC was running for the duration of the storm, and not even Java could sink it.

Re:big deal (2)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 4 months ago | (#47519005)

No no no .. if software was physically tangible; the weight of the java code would have made the thing sink to the ocean floor -- and possibly into the earth's core.

Autonomous Sex-Robot Sucks Massive Tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47518759)

..

The photo does not do it justice, and also (2)

eric_harris_76 (861235) | about 4 months ago | (#47528187)

The WaveGlider when deployed does not look like the photo. This is the stowed configuration, which is how it is put into the water. They haven't actually deployed it yet.

The top surfboard-y part floats. The bottom part with the vanes is a ways below it, and isn't buoyant. (The motive power comes from the fact that the vanes get pulled up and down by the buoyant part -- the distance is necessary for it to work.)

So, the fact that the buoyant and dense parts didn't separate, and their connecting cables didn't snap or get snarled and rendered useless is kinda impressive. At least to me.

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