New surfboard sized robots are riding the waves and doing science! They’re autonomous robots called Wave Gliders and they are being used to monitor shipping and more importantly they are tracking information on the oceans that have traditionally been too costly to gather.
Researchers are warming up to the technology too. NOAA is testing a Wave Glider named Alex in the ocean north of Puerto Rico this fall, hoping to gather crucial hurricane data to improve forecasting. Meanwhile, the Ocean Tracking Network is using gliders to track fish—a difficult task. Unlike aquatic animals that breathe, fish don’t surface often (maybe never) to ping tracking satellites.