Liquid Robotics' Wave Glider Completes Pacific Crossing

“Papa Mau” sets new world record for longest distance traveled by autonomous vehicle

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Liquid Robotics' Wave Glider Completes Pacific Crossing

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

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Top Tech 2022: A Special Report

Preview two dozen exciting technical developments that are in the pipeline for the coming year

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Photo of the lower part of a rocket in an engineering bay.

NASA’s Space Launch System will carry Orion to the moon.

Frank Michaux/NASA

At the start of each year, IEEE Spectrum attempts to predict the future. It can be tricky, but we do our best, filling the January issue with a couple of dozen reports, short and long, about developments the editors expect to make news in the coming year.

This isn’t hard to do when the project has been in the works for a long time and is progressing on schedule—the coming first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, for example. For other stories, we must go farther out on a limb. A case in point: the description of a hardware wallet for Bitcoin that the company formerly known as Square (which recently changed its name to Block) is developing but won’t officially comment on. One thing we can predict with confidence, though, is that Spectrum readers, familiar with the vicissitudes of technical development work, will understand if some of these projects don’t, in fact, pan out. That’s still okay.

Engineering, like life, is as much about the journey as the destination.

See all stories from our Top Tech 2022 Special Report

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