Ocean-faring robots set sail on Guinness record attempt

Four robots left the Golden Gate today on an across the globe mission to set a world distance record and demonstrate new data-gathering tools that could help save the planet.

The robots, known as Wave Gliders, were built by a Silicon Valley startup known as Liquid Robotics. And starting today, the four autonomous sea-faring craft are heading out on journeys to Australia and Japan with the intention of setting the Guinness World Record for the longest distance traveled on the surface of the Earth by a robot.

The four Wave Gliders are thought to be capable of traveling across the world without any fuel or outside propulsion. But setting records is really just a “stunt,” said James Gosling, one of the creators of the Java programming language and now Liquid Robotics’ chief software architect. By that, Gosling meant that going for the record would draw attention to the robots’ real work: helping bring scientists, educators, students, industry, and many others access to a level of data about the world’s oceans that may never have been possible before.