Setting Sail for Global Coverage—Flightradar24 ADS-B Receivers On-board a Surface Ocean Robot

We are excited to announce for the first time that we have received and processed ADS-B signals collected by our autonomous boat. The unmanned surface vehicle, a Wave Glider®  manufactured by Liquid Robotics® and managed by Maritime Robotics as part of their new partnership, is receiving ADS-B signals from aircraft over the North Atlantic Ocean and transmitting them to the Flightradar24 network via satellite relay. This is the first use of an autonomous surface ocean robot for ADS-B reception by any commercial flight tracking service.

Why a Wave Glider?

Our goal is global ADS-B coverage we’re working to achieve that goal on multiple fronts. Just last month we successfully tested reception of ADS-B signals via the GomSpace GOMX-3 nano-satellite. The ADS-B receiver-equipped Wave Glider allows us to test an additional method for closing the oceanic coverage gap.

What is a Wave Glider?

The Liquid Robotics Wave Glider is comprised of two primary parts, a surface vessel (float) and a submersible (sub). The surface vessel houses the electronics (including our ADS-B receivers) and batteries and is is topped by solar panels used to power and charge the equipment inside. An 8 meter tether connects the surface vessel to a submersible that uses wave energy to power the Wave Glider through the water at an average of 2 knots. See the video below for a detailed overview of how the Wave Glider moves through the water, courtesy of Liquid Robotics.

 

Where is the Wave Glider?

Overview of Wave Glider position, destination, and first live-tracked flight

Overview of Wave Glider position, destination, and first live-tracked flight

The Wave Glider is currently 200 kilometers off the Norwegian coast en route to an area southeast of Jan Mayen, where it will remain for approximately 6-8 weeks. We’ve chosen to test the capabilities of the ADS-B receiver on the Wave Glider in this area due to its potential for additional coverage as well as the area’s proximity to the home port should the Wave Glider need to be recalled or retrieved. Additionally, there is little surface traffic in the target area. Although the Wave Glider is equipped with technology designed to prevent a collision with another boat, the test area further reduces the chance of that.

 

How can I see what aircraft are being tracked by the Wave Glider?

Flights being tracked by the ADS-B receiver aboard the wave glider will be displayed on Flightradar24.com in blue. The FR24 radar code for the Wave Glider is F-WGLD1.

The Wave Glider receivers have lower priority than terrestrial stations, so tracking data from the Wave Glider is only visible when no other coverage is available.