Undersea drones explore the ocean frontier

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

sea drones
The Wave Glider uses the natural motion of waves to propel itself.

Drones are taking over… and that’s good news! These unmanned machines provide a safe and convenient way to make speedy mail deliveries, perform search and rescue operations, spy on dangerous people, or keep the peace in war zones with long-range missiles. Now, scientists are turning to undersea drones to map the ocean, explore sunken shipwrecks, and collect important data on marine life.

Although there are dozens of aquatic robots zipping about the wild blue tides across the globe, one of the coolest ones is the Wave Glider from the Liquid Robotics company. The craft uses a surfboard-like shell to propel itself along the water with the natural motion of waves, while ocean-scanning machines hanging 15 feet below take measurements.

“We can put them in places where humans would not be happy to go … there is huge potential to save lives and prevent damage,” explains Graham Hine, co-founder of Liquid Robotics. “It’s pretty clear that we can forecast the direction of a hurricane, the intensity, and better understand the original formation of storms.” Whoa, that sounds super helpful!

Well, what if you’re not a professional scientist and just want to explore the inky depths on your own without ultra-expensive gear? Then you’ll definitely want to check out the OpenROV, an underwater robot that’s hoping to make aquatic exploration more affordable. The project started in a garage with a few guys who wanted to take a peek inside an underwater cave, and now they’re selling do-it-yourself kits for people to make their own OpenROV drones!

Featured image courtesy of OpenROV. Image of Wave Glider SV3 courtesy of Liquid Robotics.