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紐時摘譯:機器人下海 踏浪蒐集資訊
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Robot Rides Waves to Gather Data

機器人下海 踏浪蒐集資訊

By Quentin Hardy

SUNNYVALE, California – James Gosling wants to network the world’s oceans.
葛斯林立志將全球各大海洋連線。

Mr. Gosling is transforming a fleet of robots that move out in the ocean to measure everything from weather to oil slicks, sharply reducing many of the costs of ocean-related businesses.
他正在改造一批機器人,使它們能夠在浩瀚無涯的海洋上做各種測量,包括氣候與海上浮油。此舉可以大幅降低許多與海洋有關的企業經營成本。

Mr. Gosling designed of one of the most influential and widely used computer languages, Java. The Silicon Valley company he joined, Liquid Robotics, has raised serious money to accomplish the mission – $40 million, including $22 million in June from VantagePoint Capital Partners and Schlumberger, the oilfield services company.
葛斯林曾設計出最具影響力、使用最普遍的電腦語言之一:爪哇。他效力的矽谷「液態機器人學公司」已經籌得完成這項任務所必須的4000萬美元資金,包括今年六月向「制高點資本夥伴公司」及海上油田服務公司「史倫柏格」籌得的2200萬美元。

Liquid Robotics’ product, a Wave Glider, is about the size of a surfboard. Using a wave-based propulsion system and two solar panels to fuel its computers, the robots travel slowly over the ocean, recording data.
「液態機器人學」的產品名為「滑浪者」,大小與一塊衝浪板相當。它採用以浪潮為基礎的推進系統及兩片為電腦提供能量的太陽能板。這些機器人在海洋的海面上緩慢行進,沿途不斷蒐集各種資訊。

The sensor data is crunched onboard by low-power cellphone chips, and then shipped by satellite or cellphone to big onshore computers.
感應器蒐集的資訊以低功率手機晶片嘎吱上傳,然後透過衛星或手機傳給大型的岸上電腦。

“Getting a computer out into the middle of the ocean is a pretty big challenge, but that is the attractive thing,” said Mr. Gosling, chief software architect at Liquid Robotics. “Three-quarters of the planet is ocean, and it’s still dark to us.”
現任「液態機器人學」首席軟體設計師的葛斯林說:「把一部電腦送到大海正中央是非常艱鉅的挑戰,不過這也正是迷人之處。海洋占有地球四分之三面積。對我們而言,它仍然非常神祕。」

Liquid Robotics is working toward networking tens of thousands of the craft, adding sensors and onboard computing capability so the robots can manage themselves during oceangoing projects lasting years. Right now, the robots work solo.
「液態機器人學」試圖把數以萬計的同款式機器人連線,同時為它們增添感應器與現場運算功能,使機器人在執行必須持續數年的遠洋航行任務期間,能夠自主管理。目前,這些機器人單獨作業。

Liquid Robotics has sold Wave Gliders to America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for $100,000 and up. The company has built about 70 Wave Gliders since 2009, largely for use by the petroleum industry and scientists.
「液態機器人學」已以每部10萬美元以上的價格,把幾部「滑浪者」賣給美國國家海洋及大氣管理局。自2009年至今,該公司約已建造70部「滑浪者」,大多供石油勘採業及科學家使用。

It also has a service for sending data to companies, for $1,000 to $3,000 a day. “We replace ships that cost $50,000 to $100,000 a day to operate,” said Bill Vass, Liquid Robotics’ chief executive. “Our last sortie covered 8,600 miles of the Gulf of Mexico for BP. By ship that would have cost them $10.5 million. We did it for $1.5 million.”
它還為企業提供傳送資訊的服務,一天收費10003000美元不等。「液態機器人學」執行長華士說:「我們取代一天作業成本高達5萬到10萬美元的船隻。我們上一次為英國石油公司在墨西哥灣海域出勤,全程將近14000公里。如果使用船隻,成本勢必高達1050萬美元。我們收費僅150萬美元。」

Other firms, like iRobot, also make seagoing robots with sensors, but these tend to be used for underwater work and aren’t designed to be networked.
包括iRobot在內的其他公司也建造配置感應器的海上機器人,不過它們往往只用於水下作業,而且無法連成網絡。

This month the company is starting a yearlong awareness-building campaign by launching four craft on a trip across the Pacific. Two robots will aim for Tokyo, two for Sydney. Liquid Robotics will post sensor data online for the taking, awarding a prize to whomever finds the most innovative use for the data.
這個月,「液態機器人學」將展開為期一年的宣導活動,讓四部機器人橫越太平洋。其中兩部機器人目的地是東京,另外兩部則為雪梨。「液態機器人學」準備把感應器蒐集的資訊傳上網路供大家使用,並為能以最具創意方式運用這些資訊的人提供獎勵。

The robots move at about one and a half knots, powered by underwater wings connected to the surface vessel by a 6.7-meter strap. The wings tilt up when the craft is lifted by a wave, pulling it forward. On a down wave, the wings tilt downward, pulling the craft forward. As further proof of concept, the company hopes to pilot a Wave Glider through a hurricane.
這些機器人的航速大約一節半,動力來自以6.7公尺長皮帶連接水面船隻的水下滑翼。如果浪頭抬起船隻,滑翼會往上翹起,把它往前拉。如果逢低浪,滑翼往下傾斜,同樣將它往前拉。為了證明這個概念行得通,「液態機器人學」希望未來能夠讓一部「滑浪者」通過颶風區。

Roger Hine, the company’s founder, began working on the project in 2005, when a friend of his father’s was looking for a way to track humpback whales. “I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why no one had built one of these before,” he said.
「液態機器人學」創辦人海恩從2005年開始擘畫這項計畫。當時,他父親的一名友人正在苦思如何追蹤座頭鯨的方法。他說:「我花了許多時間想要弄明白,為什麼從來沒有人建造過這種機器人。」

原文參照:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/02/business/wave-glider-a-floating-robot-seeks-to-network-the-oceans.html 

2011-11-22聯合報/G9/UNITEDDAILYNEWS 陳世欽譯 原文參見紐時週報七版右


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