Underwater glider

Underwater glider

An underwater glider is a type of autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that uses small changes in its buoyancy in conjunction with wings to convert vertical motion to horizontal, and thereby propel itself forward with very low power consumption. While not as fast as conventional AUVs, gliders using buoyancy-based propulsion represent a significant increase in range and duration compared to vehicles propelled by electric motor-driven propellers, extending ocean sampling missions from hours to weeks or months, and to thousands of kilometers of range. Gliders follow a sawtooth path though the water, providing data on temporal and spatial scales unavailable to previous AUVs, and much more costly to sample using traditional shipboard techniques.


The concept of the glider was introduced to the oceanographic community by Henry Stommel in 1989, when he proposed a glider concept called "Slocum" (after Joshua Slocum, the first solo circumnavigator of the globe by sailboat). He proposed harnessing energy from the thermal gradient between deep ocean water (2-4 °C) and surface water (near atmospheric temperature) to achieve globe-circling range, constrained only by battery power onboard for communications, sensors, and navigational computers.

By 2005, not only had a working thermal-powered glider ("Slocum Thermal") been demonstrated by Webb Research, but they and other institutions had introduced battery-powered gliders with impressive duration and efficiency, far exceeding that of traditional survey-class AUVs. The University of Washington "Seaglider" and Scripps Institution of Oceanography "Spray" vehicles have performed feats such as crossing the Gulf Stream from the mainland USA to Bermuda, and, together with the Webb "Slocum", conducting sustained, multi-vehicle collaborative monitoring of oceanographic variables in Monterey Bay.

Originally conceived as testbed for the thermal-power gliders before developing into a platform of their own, the Webb Slocum electric gliders have been widely deployed since 2003. As one of its earliest users, Rutgers University has flown its fleet of gliders over 45,000 km (as of June 2008) in three of the five major oceans. In January 2007, Slocum glider RU06 became the first autonomous underwater vehicle to fly across the Antarctic Circle into Antarctica, on its way completing a 22 day, 553 km mission along the western shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Functional Description

Gliders typically make measurements such as temperature, conductivity (to calculate salinity), currents, chlorophyll fluorescence, optical backscatter, bottom depth, and (occasionally) acoustic backscatter. They navigate with the help of periodic surface GPS fixes, pressure sensors, tilt sensors, and magnetic compasses. Vehicle pitch is controllable by movable internal ballast (usually battery packs), and steering is accomplished either with a rudder (as in "Slocum") or by moving internal ballast to control roll (as in "Spray" and "Seaglider"). Buoyancy is adjusted either by using a piston to flood/evacuate a compartment with seawater ("Slocum") or by moving oil in/out of an external bladder ("Seaglider", "Spray", and "Slocum Thermal"). Commands and data are relayed between gliders and shore by satellite.

Gliders vary in the pressure they are able to withstand. The coastal "Slocum" model is rated for 200 meters depth. "Spray" can operate to 1500 meters, "Seaglider" to 1000 meters, and "Slocum Thermal" to 1200. In December 2006, a "Deep Glider" variant of the Seaglider achieved a repeated 3300-meter operating depth.

XRay Flying Wing

As of 2006, the US Navy Office of Naval Research is developing the world's largest glider, the Liberdade XRay, which uses a blended wing body hullform to achieve hydrodynamic efficiency. It is intended to quietly track diesel electric submarines in littoral waters, remaining on station for up to 6 months, with major field testing beginning in August 2006 [ [http://www.onr.navy.mil/media/extra/fact_sheets/advanced_underwater_glider.pdf] ] .

ee also

*Argo floats
*Paravane (weapon)
*Paravane (water kite)


* [http://www-pord.ucsd.edu/~rdavis/publications/MTS_Glider.pdf Underwater Gliders for Ocean Research]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7234544.stm Robot glider harvests ocean heat]

External links

* [http://spray.ucsd.edu/ "Spray" page at Scripps Institution of Oceanography]
* [http://www.apl.washington.edu/projects/seaglider/summary.html "Seaglider" page at Applied Physics Laboratory - University of Washington]
* [http://iop.apl.washington.edu/seaglider/ "Seaglider" Operations page at APL-UW]
* [http://marine.rutgers.edu/cool/auvs/ Rutgers University Coastal Ocean Observations Lab -- Glider Operations]
* [http://www.webbresearch.com/slocum.htm "Slocum" page at Webb Research Corp.]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Glider Submarino — NOAA Personnel launch a Slocum Glider off Florida. Archivo:RU02 flying in Sargasso Sea.jpg Rutgers Slocum Glider RU02 deployed in Sargasso Sea …   Wikipedia Español

  • Glider (disambiguation) — Glider may refer to the following:Machines and popular cultureA glider is a heavier than air aircraft primarily intended for unpowered flight. *Underwater gliders, submarines propelled by analogous principles *Hang gliders, used recreationally,… …   Wikipedia

  • Glider — Gliders or Sailplanes are heavier than air aircraft primarily intended for unpowered flight. See also gliding and motor gliders for more details. [cite web url = http://www.ssa.org/UsTeam/adobe%20pdf/pr%20pdf/BR%20Sailplanes%20V3%2004.pdf title …   Wikipedia

  • Autonomous underwater vehicle — Picture taken from the HSV Swift by an employee of Bluefin Robotics Corporation during a US Navy exercise …   Wikipedia

  • Remotely operated underwater vehicle — Remotely operated vehicle redirects here. For vehicles operating out of water, see remote control vehicle. ROV at work in an underwater oil and gas field. The ROV is operating a subsea torque tool (wrench) on a valve on the subsea structure. A… …   Wikipedia

  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicle — AUV Odyssey wird durch ein Eisloch eingesetzt AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, deutsch etwa autonomes Unterwasserfahrzeug) gehören zur Kategorie der unbemannten Unterwasserfahrzeuge und führen autonom Aufgaben im Meer aus. Beispielsweise… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicles — AUV Odyssey wird durch ein Eisloch eingesetzt AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) gehören zur Kategorie der unbemannten Unterwasserfahrzeuge und führen autonom Aufgaben im Meer aus. Die Offshore Öl und Gasindustrie setzt sie ein, um… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Подводный планер — NOAA Personnel launch a Slocum Glider off Florida …   Википедия

  • Ornithopter — Cybird radio controlled ornithopter Pa …   Wikipedia

  • SOFAR channel — The SOFAR channel (short for Sound Frequency and Ranging channel), or deep sound channel (DSC),[1] is a horizontal layer of water in the ocean at which depth the speed of sound is minimal. The SOFAR channel acts as a waveguide for sound, and low… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.