iRobot will commercialize Seaglider, an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

Posted Jun 10, 2008 by Chris V. Thangham
Seaglider, an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) developed by the scientists at the University of Washington, will be commercially developed by iRobot.
Seaglider  underwater vehicle
Seaglider, underwater vehicle
The Seaglider is a research vehicle that scans the oceans autonomously. The Seaglider use very little energy and take advantage of the motions of the sea currents to roam underwater. It is designed to operate at depths of up to 1,000 meters and can work for days without a recharge.
The vehicles gather conductivity-temperature-depth data from the oceans for months and transmit them to the shores via satellite data telemetry.
Instead of costly research vessels or moored instruments at different locations, the Seaglider does the same job at a fraction of the cost.
The Seaglider can either be sent in a fixed path or remotely controlled to random regions.
The Seaglider operates as follows:
After each dive Seaglider dips its nose to raise its antenna out of the water. It determines its position via GPS, calls in via Iridium data telemetry satellite, uploads the oceanographic data it just collected, then downloads a file complete with any new instructions.
Now the research project is fully ready for commercial and military uses. iRobot, the makers of Roomba, industrial robots, Verro pool cleaning robots, military PackBot and others will now make the Seaglider. iRobot received the exclusive commercial rights to develop this Seaglider from the group at the University of Washington.
The Burlington, Mass.-based company made the announcement Tuesday at the annual symposium for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
They also plan to make this for military purposes, but I hope they use them more for marine research projects.
iRobot’s co-founder and Chairman Helen Greiner announced this project in a press statement:
We have a strong track record for transferring new technology from research initiatives into products that support military missions...licensing the Seaglider from the University of Washington will help our robots conquer new underwater frontiers.
While iRobot will be selling them commercially, the University of Washington will have the rights to use this technology for its own research.
You can watch a QuickTime animation video of the Seaglider here.
The applications for this Seaglider is endless; it will make us better understand marine life.