LONDON ― Liquid Robotics launched a new version of its Wave Glider unmannned surface vehicle Sept. 7, a retooled version of its wave-powered sensor platform that’s in use by the U.S. Navy.

The the third-generation upgrade of the USV is designed to operate for weeks in up to 20-foot seas and conditions in the Arctic Circle. The drone has solar panels to power communications and sensors, and the new version increases both the power collection and battery storage over the previous generation. That means the system can support more powerful sensors. 

The Wave Glider can be used for oceanographic survey, submarine monitoring and any number of other application that require a USV. 

The drone moves through the water at anywhere from 1 to 3 knots using a frame suspended below a floating sensor platform that looks a bit like a cross between a kayak and a surfboard. A series of oscillating blades attached to the frame are powered by waves, and they propel the float through the water.

The new system comes with a copper coating on the propulsion blades to limit marine life buildup. 

Existing costumers can purchase an upgrade kit for their second-generation Wave Gliders, according to a Liquid Robotics release.

The U.S. Navy contracted for the Wave Glider in 2016, spending $10 million on the system and related services and gear. Each unit costs between $250,000 and $300,000, not counting advanced sensors added as government-furnished equipment, a Liquid Robotics represenative said.

The company displayed the Wave Glider at the Defence and Security Equipment International conference in London, England.

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.

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