Solar Powered Aquatic Robot Wins WSJ Award

The wave and solar powered Wave Glider, an unmanned maritime vehicle, was recently announced the winner of the Wall Street Journal’s 2010 Technology Innovation Award for Robotics.
Produced by California-based Liquid Robotics, the UMV consists of a surface buoy and a submerged glider with wing-shaped panels that convert the motion of waves into forward thrust. Coupled with two 43 watt solar panels, the craft can be propelled indefinitely without requiring batteries or other sources of power. The Wave Glider’s navigation, control, and communications systems require only 0.7 Watts of (averaged) continuous power.
The Wave Glider is designed to support a wide variety of sensor payloads. The oceanic robots are controlled via a  web-based interface and data is transmitted to shore via satellite. Payloads already used include passive acoustics for marine mammal monitoring and common meteorological and oceanographic (METOC) sensors. 
Liquid Robotics says the Wave Glider enables more efficient and comprehensive ocean exploration, research and monitoring and can support all phases of offshore renewable energy projects.
In operation in the field since 2008, Wave Gliders have logged well over 100,000 miles of operations to date and demonstrated voyages of over 2500 miles lasting over 400 days. The robots have endured adverse conditions such as winds above 50 knots, swells exceeding 18 feet and peak wave heights of over 21 feet.
Wave Glider was also recently used during the BP oil spill disaster to monitor conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.