Tech Tuesday is an on-going series profiling the Forum’s Technology Pioneers. The Tech Pioneers are companies that have been recognized by the Forum for ground-breaking and innovative approaches in tackling some of the world’s most wicked problems. Each week we will be showcasing one of the 2013 Tech Pioneers. You can learn more about the Technology Pioneer Programme on the Forum’s website.

Liquid Robotics: Harnessing clean wave power to explore and scan the ocean

Liquid Robotics’ Wave Glider offers to dramatically alter that situation by offering ocean-going research for as little as US$ 3,000 a day. When deployed in an interconnecting network, the Wave Gliders, which are essentially instrument-packed, self-propelled surf boards, can cover a much vaster area than a more expensive research vessel, and they can upload their findings to satellites in real-time. Each Wave Glider is powered by a bank of solar cells on its deck, which provides power to onboard computers that feed data to overhead satellites. A bank of fins that looks like water-logged venetian blinds dangle beneath the surface and are attached to the board by a 20-ft long strap. As the glider crosses a wave, the fins pull it forward at the speed of roughly 1.5 knots. The data collected can range from information about oil spills to the migratory habits of fish or critical information on ocean currents.

The company got its start when founder Roger Hine was asked to develop a means of tracking humpback whales. An early client was NOAA, the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. James Gosling, the inventor of the computer language Java, is in charge of software engineering and eventually wants to network multiple Wave Gliders to provide information on larger ocean areas in real time. The Wave Glider has enormous potential to contribute to our knowledge of climate change. The oceans effectively act as enormous thermal batteries, a fact that is easily seen in the dramatic weather changes that follow El Niño effect, which results from the buildup of warm water off the western coast of South America. A better reading on exactly what is happening to ocean currents could have a huge impact on improving our ability to get advanced warning of severe weather before it happens.

Roger Hine, Founder & Chief Technology Officer
Location: CA, USA
Number of Employees: 80
Year Founded: 2007

Liquid Robotics Inc.
1329 Moffett Parc Drive
Sunnyvale, CA 94089

+1 408 636 4200