Liquid Robotics

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Liquid Robotics, Inc.
Founded 2007
Headquarters Sunnyvale, CA; Kamuela, HI.
Key people

CEO: Gary Gysin CFO: Pablo Luther CTO & Founder: Roger Hine

Chief Software Architect: James Gosling
Products Wave Glider, SHARC
Number of employees
120+[citation needed]

Liquid Robotics, a Boeing Company is an American company headquartered in Sunnyvale, California that designs, manufactures, and sells an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) called the Wave Glider.[1] The Wave Glider is the world’s first ocean robot (or USV) to be powered 100% by wave and solar energy.[2]

The Wave Glider has revolutionized how the ocean is explored and understood by gathering data in ways and locations previously too costly or challenging to operate. With their global partner ecosystem, the Wave Glider addresses challenges facing defense, commercial, and science customers by making ocean data collection and communications easier, safer, and real-time. Solution areas [3] include: anti-submarine warfare, surface vessel detection, illegal fishing, drug/human trafficking, Marine Protected Areas (MPA) monitoring, seismic surveying, and various application areas for environmental assessment (weather forecasting, climate change, water quality monitoring).

Early History[edit]

In 2003 with a kayak, hydrophone, and a pickle jar, Joe Rizzi,[4] Founder and Chairman of the Jupiter Research Foundation,[5] embarked on a project to record the songs or “singing” of Humpback Whales as they migrated along the coasts of the Big Island of Hawai’i. In 2005, after many experiments, Joe enlisted Derek Hine and his son, Roger Hine,[6] a mechanical engineer and robotics expert from Stanford University, to help create “an unmoored, station-keeping data buoy” that could stay at sea for months, collect and transmit acoustic data while not harming the environment. Together, they came up with a non-motorized model that harnessed the natural energy in waves for forward propulsion and solar energy to power the hydrophone and communications equipment This breakthrough occurred and produced the first Wave Glider. In January 2007, recognizing the commercial potential for the technology, Liquid Robotics was founded with Roger Hine as the founding CEO.[3]

History - Post 2007[edit]

Underwater picture of Wave Glider above

The Wave Glider is composed of two parts: the float is roughly the size and shape of a surfboard and stays at the surface; the sub has wings and hangs 6 meters below on an umbilical tether. Because of the separation, the float experiences more wave motion than does the sub. This difference allows wave energy to be harvested to produce forward thrust.

Over the next several years, Liquid Robotics conducted long duration endurance missions beginning with a nine-day circumnavigation of Hawaii's Big Island. Later that year a pair of Wave Gliders traveled from Hawaii to San Diego, an 82-day trip that covered more than 2,500 miles. In 2009,[7] commenced manufacturing operations and began customer shipments. Since that time, Liquid Robotics has produced and deployed Wave Gliders around the globe from NOAA PMEL missions in the Arctic[8] to Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Antarctica mission in the Southern Ocean.[9]

In June 2011, Liquid Robotics received $22M investor funding from VantagePoint Capital Partners and Schlumberger, Ltd.[10] In parallel, Bill Vass,[11] former CIO of Sun Microsystems, was named President and CEO.[12] Later in 2011, the Pacific Crossing (PacX)[13] adventure was launched from San Francisco when four Wave Gliders were sent on an unprecedented journey across the Pacific to Japan and Australia.

Approximately one year later in June 2012, Liquid Robotics and Schlumberger announced the creation of Liquid Robotics Oil & Gas (LROG); a four year joint venture to develop services for the oil and gas industry using Wave Gliders. The joint venture, which ended in September 2016, combined Liquid Robotics Wave Glider technology with Schlumberger’s oil and gas expertise and industry knowledge to integrate and deploy new solutions for customers worldwide.[14] That same year, a Wave Glider named Papa Mau, became the first autonomous ocean robot to cross the Pacific Ocean.[15] A few months later in February 2013, another PacX Wave Glider named Benjamin, arrived in Bundaberg, Australia setting the Guinness World Record for “the longest journey by an unmanned autonomous surface vehicle on the planet.”[16]

Later in June 2012, Liquid Robotics and Schlumberger announced the creation of Liquid Robotics Oil & Gas (LROG); a four year joint venture to develop services for the oil and gas industry using Wave Gliders. The joint venture, which ended in September 2016, combined Liquid Robotics Wave Glider technology with Schlumberger’s oil and gas expertise and industry knowledge to integrate and deploy new solutions for customers worldwide.[14]

In March 2013, Riverwood Capital Partners led a $45M Series E financing round[17] with participation from existing investors, Schlumberger[18] and Vantage Point Capital Partners.[19] Following this investment, the Company announced the next generation Wave Glider SV3.[20] Following this success in 2014, Gary Gysin was named as President and CEO[21] and soon after Boeing Defense, Space and Security and Liquid Robotics signed a multi-year teaming agreement to advance solutions for Maritime Defense.[22] The Company has employed over 100 employees and produced a total of over 350 Wave Gliders.

In December 2016, the Boeing Company acquired Liquid Robotics to enhance its autonomous seafloor-to-space information services. [23]

Initial Wave Glider[edit]

The Wave Glider is equipped with computers for navigation and payload control, satellite communication systems, and ocean sensors to measure the environment around it. Sensors have been integrated to measure weather, sea conditions, water quality and chemistry, living organisms, bottom topography and currents. Acoustic microphones and arrays have been adapted to record passing ships and the vocalizations of whales and other mammals. The power needed to operate the sensors and computers is provided by solar panels, which are used to recharge lithium-ion batteries.

The Wave Glider can be programmed for autonomous operation, or it can be steered by a remote pilot over the Internet. Continuous, near real time, communication is provided via satellite, cellular phone or radio links for piloting and data transmission.[24]

Wave Glider[edit]

The Wave Glider’s key innovation is its’ ability to harvest energy from ocean waves[1] to provide essentially limitless propulsion, providing a persistent presence at sea. Wave Gliders run totally on renewable energies; using wave and solar energy for propulsion and solar power for communications, navigation and computing. It requires no fuel, no manpower, produces no emissions, and has a zero carbon impact on the environment.

The Wave Glider is composed of two parts, the float (size of a surfboard), and a sub with a wing rack. Connected by 8-meter (26 ft.) umbilical tether, the float is on the surface of the ocean where conditions are the harshest while the sub is below the surface protected from the severe conditions. This two part system enables the Wave Glider to get its’ propulsion by harvesting the up and down motion of the waves converting this energy into forward thrust.

The Wave Glider is equipped with sophisticated computers for navigation, communication systems (Iridium satellite, Wi-Fi, Cellular), and state of the art ocean sensors to measure the environment around it. It supports a wide variety of scientific and commercial sensors have been integrated to measure weather, sea conditions, water quality and chemistry, bottom topography and currents. Acoustic microphones and arrays enable real time communications from subsea to space and can detect passing ships and capture vocalizations of whales and monitor other mammals.

The Wave Glider’s Software Operating Environment, Regulus, and the Wave Glider Management System (WGMS)[25] combine to manage and control the vehicles. Regulus is based on Linux, Java and industry standard services with client plug-ins and APIs. Autonomy including vessel detection and avoidance, remote piloting and navigation, data delivery and management are advanced operating capabilities included in the Wave Glider.

As of March, 2016, Wave Gliders have collected traveled over 1 million nautical miles at sea.[26]

Industry Associations[edit]

Liquid Robotics is a member of the following Maritime and Defense associations: Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA),[27] the Navy League,[28] Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI),[29] the Consortium for Ocean Leadership,[30] Marine Technology Society (MTS),[31] World Ocean Council,[32] and International Association of Geophysical Contractors Maritime Technology Society (IAGC).[33]

Chlorophyll fluorescence data collected during the PacX journey

In November 2011, Liquid Robotics launched the PacX Challenge, an attempt to get four Wave Gliders across the Pacific. They were launched from San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club and travelled together to Hawaii, a distance of nearly 6000 km, arriving in March 2012.[34] The Wave Gliders launched from Hawai’i on 21 May 2012 for the second leg of their voyage, with two headed across the Mariana trench to Japan and two to Australia.

On 20 November 2012, the first of the Wave Gliders, Papa Mau (named in honor of Mau Piailug), reached Australia.[35] Papa Mau completed its 9,000 nautical mile (17,000 kilometer) journey across the Pacific Ocean to Australia, setting a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle.


The PacX Challenge awards a prize to the best research proposal submitted utilizing data gathered on the transpacific crossing. The prize comprises a $50,000 research grant (courtesy of BP, the oil and gas industry supporter of the PacX Challenge) and six months of Wave Glider time. The winner will work with Liquid Robotics to chart the course and mission for the six-month deployment, including the configuration of onboard sensors.[36] Throughout the Company’s history, Liquid Robotics has received recognition for its revolutionary innovation and ability to advance the way the world observes, monitors and protects the ocean. A few of the most notable awards are: The Economist World Ocean Innovation Challenge (2015),[37] Fast Company Top 50 Most Innovative Companies (2014),[38] the Edison Awards Gold Medal for Energy (2013),[39] World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer (2013),[40] Robotics Business Review Top 50 Robotics Companies (2012-2014),[41] Savannah Ocean Exchange Gulfstream Navigator Award (2011),[42] Wall Street Journal names Liquid Robotics as one of the Most Innovative Technologies (2010).[43]

PacX (Pacific Crossing) – Guinness World Record Liquid Robotics created the PacX Challenge[13] to foster new scientific discoveries in ocean science. On November 17, 2011, Liquid Robotics launched four Wave Gliders from San Francisco to cross the Pacific Ocean and travel to Australia and Japan.

PacX Challenge As part of the PacX journey, Liquid Robotics invited scientists, students and educators to compete in the PacX Challenge competition, which recognized the most innovative application of the PacX ocean data. The PacX Challenge Prize consisted of a $50,000 research grant (courtesy of BP, the exclusive oil and gas industry supporter of the PacX Challenge)[44] and six months of Wave Glider time, valued at over $300,000 from Liquid Robotics.

On September 24, 2013 at the Oceans '13 conference in San Diego, Dr. Tracy Villareal of the University of Texas at Austin, was announced as the Grand Prize winner of the PacX Challenge,[45] for his research on a comparison of scientific spatial data collected from U.S. satellite streams to in-situ or surface data collected by the four PacX Wave Gliders.

The other three finalists were: Dr. J. Michael Beman, University of California, Merced Dr. Nicole Goebel, University of California, Santa Cruz Dr. Elise Ralph, Independent Oceanographer, Boston, Massachusetts.

PacX Guinness World Record On May 15, 2013 Liquid Robotics was awarded the Guinness World Record for “the longest journey of an unmanned autonomous surface vehicle on the planet”. “Benjamin Franklin”, the Wave Glider named in honor of one of the United States’ founding fathers and the oceanographer who discovered and named the Gulf Stream Current, traveled farther than any other unmanned autonomous surface vehicle - land or sea. Amassing a total of 7939 nautical miles (14,703 km) for his trans-Pacific crossing, Benjamin is the second PacX Wave Glider (Papa Mau was the first) to complete the treacherous yearlong adventure to Australia. Ben began his journey on November 17, 2011 from California’s San Francisco Bay and navigated on a pre-programmed route across the high seas battling shark attacks, overcame severe currents and ended his travels navigating through Cyclone Freda (a Category 4 cyclone) to reach the southernmost part of the Great Barrier Reef. He arrived at Lady Musgrave Island near Bundaberg, Australia.


Board of Directors[edit]

Liquid Robotics Board of Directors:[46]

Strategic Advisory Board[edit]

  • Marv Langston, Former Dep. Asst. Secretary of Defense, USDOD, chairman of the SAB
  • Bill Vass, VP of Engineering Amazon Web Services, former CEO of Liquid Robotics, President and Chief Operating Officer of Sun Microsystems Federal, CIO of Sun Microsystems, Office of the Secretary of Defense Office of the CIO
  • Archie Clemins, Admiral, US Navy, former Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet
  • Robert S. Gelbard, Founder and Chairman Washington Global Partners, LLC, former Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia
  • Joanne Isham, Former L-1 and BAE executive, former Deputy Director for NGA and CIA
  • Arthur "Art" Money, former Asst Secretary of Defense (C3I) USDOD, former president of ESL, Inc.
  • John Tozzi, Rear Admiral, US Coast Guard (ret)
  • John Gage, former partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Buyers
  • James Bellingham, Chief Technologist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)
  • Scott McNealy, Chairman Wayin, former CEO and founder Sun Microsystems
  • Karl Rauscher, Bell Labs Fellow, Distinguished Fellow and CTO of the EastWest Institute
  • Millard S. Firebaugh, Independent consultant for Defense & Energy, Admiral, U.S. Navy (ret)
  • Gregory Poulos, Maritime Attorney, Partner, Cox, Wooton, Griffin, Hansen & Poulos
  • Tim Richardson, Strategic Advisor, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Board member at IXYS Corporation, Samplify, Jupiter Research Foundation
  • Boyd Robinson, Defense consultant, former RADM Royal Australian Navy (RAN), former chairman Navy Health
  • Eric Terrill, Director, Coastal Observing Research and Development Center, Marine Physical Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography


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  23. ^ Stynes, Tess; Cameron, Doug (2016-12-06). "Boeing Agrees to Acquire Liquid Robotics". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-12-06. 
  24. ^ "Wave Glider Concept". website. Liquid Robotics. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
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  34. ^ "Swimming robots break world distance record in Pacific", BBC News, 14 March 2012, retrieved 6 December 2012 .
  35. ^ "Swimming robot reaches Australia after record-breaking trip", BBC News, 5 December 2012, retrieved 6 December 2012 .
  36. ^ PacX Challenge, Liquid Robotics, retrieved 6 December 2012 .
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