National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Date Posted: March 29, 2012
The Wave Glider is an autonomous marine robot which uses the ocean’s endless supply of wave energy for propulsion. Photo credit: Liquid Robotics Inc.

The world's first operational unmanned system used as a tsunameter was launched by NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center last month.  NOAA deployed the new technology, called a Wave Glider, in the Gulf of Mexico to help augment the agency’s Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART®) network. The Wave Glider will also act as a weather station that collects real-time meteorological information. 

Wave Gliders are made up of a floating platform which is attached to a winged platform submerged underneath the water. Photo credit: Liquid Robotics Inc.

Equipped with remote-control capability, the Wave Glider can travel to select DART station locations under its own propulsion and return to shore on command.  This capability helps NOAA to operate the DART network more reliably and cost effectively.  Ultimately, the Wave Glider will help NOAA better detect tsunamis and improve warnings to the public.  

NOAA is pursuing the application of new technologies such as the Wave Glider to identify more efficient and effective ways to protect the public from potential hazards and conduct ocean observations.

“Innovative thinking and the evolution of technology are helping us to address the challenges of maintaining critical observing systems in the open ocean,” said Helmut Portmann, director, NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center. “Adding these gliders to our network is another step in our efforts to save lives and build a Weather-Ready Nation.”

NOAA’s DART network is an integral element of the U.S. tsunami warning system. It consists of DART stations positioned at strategic locations across the globe.

On the Web:
Learn more about tsunamis:NOAA's Tsunami Web site 
How to prepare for a tsunami: 
NOAA's West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center: 
NOAA's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center:

NOAA uses the Wave Glider as a tool to collect real-time tsunami information from the ocean