Dr. Tracy Villareal Awarded the PacX Challenge Grand Prize
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.
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, Dr. Villareal received a $50,000 research grant from BP, and 6 months of Wave Glider time for research (valued at $300,000) from Liquid Robotics.
The work of the other three finalists on ocean respiration, photoplankton ecology and FSLE ridges in the Pacific was also recognized at the event. They were:
Dr. J. Michael Beman, University of California, Merced
Dr. Nicole Goebel, University of California, Santa Cruz
Dr. Elise Ralph, Independent Oceanographer, Boston, MA
Although the PacX Challenge culminates with the award of the grand prize, the exploration of the Pacific Ocean continues. The PacX data set is still available and you are encouraged to use it.
Dr. Tracy Villareal
University of Texas at Austin
"A Comparison of the PacX Trans-Pacific Wave Glider Data and Satellite Data."
PacX was an unprecedented voyage; a ground-breaking, unmanned crossing of the Pacific Ocean. Four Wave Gliders attempted to travel from California to Australia and Japan. Their purpose: to foster new scientific discoveries in ocean science. During their year-long voyages, the gliders continuously gathered and transmitted valuable ocean data on salinity, water temperature, waves, weather, fluorescence, and dissolved oxygen.
Liquid Robotics made this investment not only to demonstrate the endurance of Wave Gliders, but more importantly, to ignite everyone’s imagination on what can be discovered and explored when the ocean is networked with sensors.
During their journey, the Wave Gliders traveled across some of the world’s most challenging environments. They began their journey together from California to Hawaii, and then split into pairs where one pair continued to Australia where "Papa Mau" arrived in November of 2012 and "Benjamin" arrived in February 2013, setting world records. The Japan-bound Wave Gliders encountered difficulties along the way and there journey has been postponed.
The PacX voyage so far. A short documentary on the occasion of Papa Mau's arrival in Australia
B-Roll footage shot during the recovery of Papa Mau in Hervey Bay, near Bundaberg, Australia.
Setting World Records
PacX Wave Glider “Papa Mau”, completed his journey across the Pacific Ocean to set a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle.
During Papa Mau’s journey, he weathered gale force storms, fended off sharks, spent more than 365 days at sea, skirted around the Great Barrier Reef, and finally battled and surfed the East Australian Current (EAC) to reach his final destination in Hervey Bay near Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia.
Papa Mau on display in Sydney at the world record celebration event.
On May 15, 2013 “Benjamin”, the Wave Glider named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, was officially awarded the Guinness World Record for the longest journey of an autonomous surface vessel. Traveling a total of 7939 nautical miles (14,703 km), Ben began his journey on 17 November 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, Queensland Australia on 14 February 2013. The actual distance Benjamin traveled was 9,380.490 nautical miles (17,372.667 km), with 1,441.439 nautical miles (2,669.545 km) being the distance accumulated during the orbit and calibration of the Wave Glider sensors against scientific moorings located throughout the Pacific.
Using the Data: The PacX Challenge
The ocean data gathered by the Wave Gliders is provided free of charge to scientists, educators, students, and the general public. To access the data, please register here.
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 ocean data that was collected. The PacX Challenge Prize consists of a $50,000 research grant (courtesy of BP, the exclusive oil and gas industry supporter of the PacX Challenge) and six months of Wave Glider time, valued at over $300,000 from Liquid Robotics.