Glider Mission Background

Wave Glider and Fetch Node Mission
An Ocean observing demonstration project

Wave Glider and Fetch node on route to their deployment site off the coast of Maine.  Photo by Brad Whoolhiser.

On May 3rd, off the coast of Maine, a team from Liquid Robotics, Sonardyne and the University of Maine launched a Wave Glider and deployed two Fetch nodes as part of the first leg of extensive ocean observing technology demonstration project. The project is an advanced technology demonstration being performed by NERACOOS, MARACOOS and NOAA NDBC and managed by NOAA IOOS. The goal of the project is to test two new high technology ocean observing tools in the New England and Mid-Atlantic coastal waters.


On this mission in the Gulf of Maine, the Wave Glider will record data on wind, waves, water temperature and salinity from its own sensor suite as it travels across the Gulf. An additional sensor added by the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences will listen for fish like salmon and sturgeon that carry a special tag. The Fetch nodes will collect data on water temperature and pressure and are located on the seafloor near University of Maine’s NERACOOS buoys I and E, which are about 100 miles apart.

The Wave Glider will transit between the two Fetch nodes and once above a Fetch site it will upload sea bottom sensor data collected between transits. All data is then transmitted onwards from the Wave Glider to shore based operations using satellite radio transmission. The Wave Glider will spend 6-8 weeks in the Gulf of Maine waters and then continue south for the second leg of the mission in the Mid-Atlantic coastal waters for the MARACOOS portion of the project.

More Data at a Lower Cost
There is an increasing requirement to collect oceanographic data from a larger number of sites and for less cost than the traditional means of using: ships, moored buoys or observing systems that rely on cables that are extended from the shore. The combination of Wave Glider and Fetch nodal technologies represent a paradigm shift in ocean observing as its cost of deployment and maintenance is considerable less than the traditional systems.

Wave Glider  
The Wave Glider is a configurable ocean observing platform designed to support a wide variety of sensor payloads. Data is transmitted to shore via satellite, and the continuous surface presence means that data can be delivered as it is collected.


Wave Gliders are able to travel long distances (2500+ miles), hold station, and monitor vast areas without ever needing to refuel by continuously harvesting wave energy from the environment. A unique two-part architecture and wing system directly converts wave motion into thrust, and solar panels provide electricity for sensor payloads. This means that Wave Gliders can travel to a distant area, collect data, and return for maintenance without ever requiring a ship to leave port. To learn more about the Wave Glider visit Liquid Robotics.

  The Wave Glider under way off the coast of Maine. Photo by Brad Whoolhiser.

Fetch Node  

Fetch node being deployed off the coast of Maine.  Photo by Fergus Gilroy.
The Fetch is a lightweight autonomous ocean monitoring node manufactured by Houston-based Sonardyne Inc.  The Fetch node is free-fall deployed to the seabed and has sufficient battery endurance for deployments of up to five years depending on measurement type and frequency. It can be configured with an array of different sensors. Data logged by the Fetch node can be retrieved on-demand wirelessly via Sonardyne advanced high data rate acoustic modem transmitters and receivers that are located on both the Fetch Node and Wave Glider. To learn more about the Fetch node visit Sonardyne.

Multi Sector Partnership
This project is a collaboration between industry, academia and government and is being funded through the internal resources of each entity. This type of collaboration represents a highly expedient method of implementing new technologies.