MIT Wind-Powered UAV for Ocean Monitoring

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A robotic system, which draws from both nautical and biological designs, has been developed by engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Their innovative robotic glider can skim along the water's surface. The research team say their robotic device rides the wind like an albatross while also surfing the waves like a sailboat. In high wind conditions the robot is designed to stay aloft, much like its avian counterpart, whereas in calmer winds, the robot has a keel it can dip into the water allowing it to ride in the manner of a highly efficient sailboat. The robotic system is relatively lightweight, weighing about 6 pounds, and can cover a given distance using one-third as much wind as an albatross and traveling 10 times faster than a typical sailboat.