Regardless of what kind of swimmer you are, there is a specific kind of accomplished pride that accompanies making a lap from one side of the pool to the other. You can look back and think, “I did that.” Now, if you were a robot built by Liquid Robotics, you could look across an entire ocean and say that.
Liquid Robotics is a California/Hawaii-based company that deals in, you guessed it, water-based robots, particularly their revolutionary Wave Glider, the first unmanned autonomous wave-powered robot. Last year, they sent out the Pacific Crossing (PacX) Wave Glider, nicknamed “Papa Mau,” from San Francisco, and over 9,000 miles and 365 days later, Papa Mau washed up to Hervey Bay near Bundaber, Queensland in Australia. 9,000 miles, people. Outside of spacecraft, I can’t think of another material item that wouldn’t be constantly malfunctioning, or even still working at all, by that point.
Though the distance shattered the Guinness World Record, Papa Mau’s purpose is purely informational. Throughout the pre-navigated trip, it collected and transmitted untold amounts of never-before-accumulated data about those vast stretches of ocean over this kind of timeframe. One particular bit of study mentioned was its incredibly detailed data capture of 1,200 miles of a chlorophyll bloom along the Equatorial Pacific, which indicates a propagation of phytoplankton, a foundation of ocean life and climate regulation. It faced storms and notoriously strong currents, it faced sharks, it gave a hat tip to the Great Barrier Reef. It is amazing and it will eventually take over most of our brains, drowning those of us unchosen.