It’s Thursday, 6 December, in Australia, and “Papa Mau,” an autonomous vehicle that propels itself by tapping into wave energy, has arrived in Australia. Launched from San Francisco by U.S.-based Liquid Robotics, Papa Mau traveled 16 668 kilometers, during which, the company says, “he weathered gale force storms, fended off sharks, spent more than 365 days at sea, skirted around the Great Barrier Reef, and finally battled and surfed the East Australian Current.” During this journey he measured chlorophyll blooms and gathered other data, all of which was transmitted to researchers in real time.
Sibling robot Benjamin is following behind, and is expected to show up in Australia early next year. Two other robots set off for Japan; one is still en route, a second has detoured back to Hawaii for repair.
Photos: A Wave Glider in action, above. Four robots set off across the Pacific last year, below. Credit: Liquid Robotics
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.