Resources & Climate
Commentary

Gliding to Secure Oceans

in Program

How a side project to design an environmentally friendly technology to record the “singing” of Humpback whales turned into a revolution of fuel-free autonomous power on our oceans. 

n 2003, Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist, Joe Rizzi, set off to capture the songs or “singing” of the Humpback Whales during their migration to the Hawaiian Islands. Through the Jupiter Research Foundation, the non-profit foundation he founded focused on applying new technologies for environmental monitoring, he worked to engineer a device that could last in the water for months, was environmentally friendly and did not use fuel.  After limited success, he enlisted the support of a family friend, Derek Hine and his son, Roger Hine, a mechanical engineer and robotics expert. Curious and eager for new opportunities, Roger took on the task as a side project. Little did he know how far this side project would take him in revolutionizing autonomous power on our oceans. 

New to the oceans but well versed in robotics, Roger Hine quickly realized that for any tool to last autonomously on our oceans, it would need to generate its own power while at sea. Power has been notoriously problematic when it comes to operating unmanned vehicles in our oceans. The vastness and remoteness of the oceans, the limited lifespans of traditional lithium batteries and a difficult operating environment have all compounded to make power supply at sea an enormous barrier to expanding the role of unmanned systems on our oceans. 

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