Wave Glider

Waveglider Tiny

View from the deck of autonomous surface vehicle SV3 Tiny (SeeStar timelapse camera image).

The Wave Glider is an autonomous surface vehicle produced by Liquid Robotics and purchased and outfitted with sensors and communications gear by MBARI engineering.   The Wave Glider has a surfboard-like float at the surface and a sub with spring loaded paddles that uses wave energy for motion.   It has solar panels on the float for supplying power to the linux-based computers, science instruments and communications gear.   It has GPS for precise location measurement and weather station along with a collection of antennas for communications.  The SV3 is capable of automatically avoiding ships.  MBARI and Liquid Robotics have had a collaborative supplier-customer relationship since 2010 when Liquid Robotics fielded their engineering development version of the SV2 Wave Glider during the Fall CANON field campaign.   MBARI also has a collaborative relationship with the Jupiter Foundation, the research group that came up with the Wave Glider concept.  MBARI leased a SV2 in 2012 and then purchased and took delivery of the first customer shipment of the new SV3 in January 2014.

Wave Gliders to date have been named for the crew on the historic Ricketts/Steinbeck Western Flyer cruise as a tribute to Mr. Packard who named the MBARI ship Research Vessel Western Flyer.


The Wave Glider is typically launched and recovered from the R/V Paragon.

A captain and two to three crew is typical for easy operations.   A mission plan is filed three weeks in advance notifying the Marine Sanctuary and Coast Guard of planned Wave Glider operations.   MBARI staff or Liquid Robotics will then be on call to monitor the Wave Glider from shore and to intervene in the case of an alarm condition such as a low power event or navigation problem.

Liquid Robotics provides a web-based application, WGMS, which allows waypoints and mission plans to be entered and sent to the Wave Glider.

Typical deployments last 2 to 10 weeks, mostly in Monterey Bay with periodic voyages out to Station M, 170 miles from MBARI.


Paul Coenen

Electro-Mechanical Technician