Sharks are the ocean’s most devious predators, and surviving a nightmare with one is a terrifying experience. They’ve frequently been highlighted in films and books for their insatiably carnivorous appetites for seals, fish and sometimes, though highly rare, us. The problem of knowing where and when a shark might show up is the primary mission of a University of Stanford group (GTOPP for Global Tracking of Pelagic Predators) conjoined with the technology devised by a Silicon Valley company, Liquid Robotics.
Liquid Robotics has designed and shared a Wave Glider, an automonous surfboard robot that the Stanford group believes will help track where the Pacific Coast’s Great White’s may be lurking.
GTOPP has placed acoustic tags on sharks that then emit a signal to a receiver when they pass within 1,500 feet. The shark signals have helped the group track the migratory patterns of a once little-known (but oft feared) species. They’ve tracked them during their annual pilgrimages from the coasts of California across the expanse of the Pacific to Hawaii and down as far south as Cabo, Mexico as they hunt and procreate.
The Wave Glider technology from Liquid Robotics will stream-line GTOPP’s efforts to track and study Great Whites in real time. Once a Wave Glider has been pinged by an audio emission from a nearby shark, it will propel itself towards the shark as they track and study it through the Ocean in an inconspicuous manner. But the data won’t be limited to just the Stanford Lab’s researchers; others can now bask in their knowledge of the Ocean’s largest predators.
The Stanford researchers have also devised an iPhone and iPad App, named Shark Net, that offers real-time notifications when the Wave Glider’s surfer robot encounters a nearby shark. If you’re a surfer, it might be worth a download; even if you just like going to the beach, the app could help assuage any fears of popular culture’s most endearing menace below the surface.
You can avoid the most shark-infested beaches, but why not just let the surfer robot help you out? That way, you can surf anywhere, secure in the knowledge you won’t unwittingly be dinner that night.