Underwater Glider Completes First-Ever Unmanned Ocean Crossing

Scarlet Knight . . . The future of deep-water oceanography?

On December 9, officials from NOAA joined scientists from Rutgers University and other overseas institutions in a celebration highlighting the first-ever trans-Atlantic ocean crossing of an unmanned, underwater glider . . . 

The glider, launched off the coast of New Jersey last April, repeatedly dove to depths of 200 meters (656 feet) to collect data including temperature, salinity, and density. Scientists correlate these data with those from satellite imagery and altimetry, sea-floor and buoy-mounted sensors, and radar systems to get a more detailed view of a particular patch of ocean in near real time.

Source: NOAA's press release 

Further details about mission can be found at Rutgers University Scarlet Knight website.

Views: 1809

Comment by Ellison Chan on May 2, 2012 at 5:44pm

I wonder what kind of law governs autonomous ocean vehicles.  Did they need any certification?

Comment by Jay Bryon on May 2, 2012 at 10:23pm

That's odd, I thought the Slocum glider had already done the Atlantic crossing...

Comment by AdrienB on May 3, 2012 at 2:12am

For a very informative interview of Oscar Schofield from Rutgers University about the autonomous underwater glider, visit the Robots Podcast: http://www.robotspodcast.com/podcast/2010/02/robots-auv-missions-html/

Comment by Art on May 3, 2012 at 5:01am

What is an underwater glider?  Does it just drift in the current without any propulsion system?

Comment by Mike on May 3, 2012 at 7:00am

@Jay . . . The RU-27, aka Scarlet Knight, is a Slocum Electric glider.

@Artem . . . carries enough battery power to drive a propeller for a few days at most, otherwise glider moves around by changing it's buoyancy (density) from surrounding ocean water . . . it changes its density by moving a small piston forward and back that increases and decreases its volume . . . a small change in volume (about a half cup of water) is all the glider needs to change its density . . . the wings give it a forward motion.

Comment by Jay Bryon on May 3, 2012 at 12:10pm

@Mike, should have been more clear, I thought a previous Slocum glider had already crossed the Atlantic from Boston to Scotland sometime last year.  And now that my memory has warmed up and de-fogged, that was Rutgers too.  So same folks.  Guess it didn't quite make it last year?  

Comment by Emin Bu on May 4, 2012 at 2:05am
Comment by Art on May 4, 2012 at 5:27am

@Mike

I figured it out right after I posted the question.  It is a pretty cool concept of propulsion. You can move forward both on the accent and decent phases if you use a symmetrical hydrofoil.

I wonder, looking at the simulation video on their web site, the glider "flies" with pretty large angles of accent and descent.  Seems a bit excessive. 

Comment by evilmacaw on May 4, 2012 at 8:07am

the extreme angles of attack are required because while they look and "fly" like an airplane  a) water is 66 times denser and b) the ballast system (and propulsion system one in the same ) literally only varies the weight by onces not pounds , it is taking in or expelling maybe a cup of water total each up or down cycle ,even a large one is moving maybe two quarts of water in or out of the ballast system which uses very little power ,most of the power is for instruments . That is why they have such range, a 3 m glider ballast pump is about the size of a coke can and uses only a few watts  per cycle .

Info sampling gliders are very finely balanced between float or sink  and need velocity to keep course  

Comment by Jay Bryon on May 4, 2012 at 5:45pm

The last design I saw didn't use a ballast pump so much as just expanded the internal volume with a bellowed piston, which changed displacement instead of weight.  Seemed simpler to me, but I'm not a naval engineer...

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