What really happens when a shark attacks a robot

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Liquid Robotics is a small company that makes simple ocean-going robots. As you can see above, the bots look like modified surfboards, and can carry equipment for monitoring water levels, temperatures, taking pictures, and measuring substances in the water.

And they are also the first robots ever to tangle with sharks. A researcher with the company got a mysterious distress call from one of the robots, and called it home to figure out what had happened.


According to the Wall St. Journal:

The underwater glider, which the robot uses to propel itself under water without the use of any fuel, had bite marks on it. "It was attacked by a shark with about a 12 to 14-inch size bite from the shape of the tooth marks on the gliders fins," said Bill Vass, the company's new CEO, who hails from years in the computer industry as a high level executive at Sun Microsystems.

Thankfully, he noted, after 150,000 combined miles at sea with the company's robots, this was the only shark attack.

"How often in a start-up do you get to say, ‘a shark just attacked my robot," Vass said.


The bots are powered by devices that convert wave motion into energy, and can roam the seas for years without needing any fuel. If they become sentient, at least we know for sure that their first targets won't be humans.

via WSJ