The ocean is a big place, and that is a major constraint when it comes to measuring and monitoring its conditions and activities. In 2007, Puako-based Jupiter Research introduced the Wave Glider Unmanned Maritime Vehicle (UMV), now developed by spinoff company Liquid Robotics. This remotely controlled, unmanned surfrider requires no fuel, motor, or propeller. Instead, it operates entirely by wave and solar energy, and its sea trials take place right here in Hawaiian waters.
The Wave Glider converts wave motion into forward thrust that essentially provides everlasting propulsion. Meanwhile, solar panels charge the batteries that control the vehicle’s electronic sensors and payload systems. It has been reported that these robust and resilient robots have successfully circumnavigated the Big Island, made the journey from Kona to San Diego (in 79 days), and weathered 50-knot winds and 21-foot seas.