Robots Set World Distance Swimming Record

Usually, when somebody sets out to break a world record, it comes down to ego, glory and the promise of wealth. Robots have no sense of ego -- yet -- and so the world record that just tumbled was broken in the name of science. I wonder if it's too late to sneak them onto the Aussie Olympics swimming team? We wrote about the PacX Wave Gliders when they first set off, and they've just broken the world record for distance by an unmanned wave powered vehicle. Which makes me wonder -- is there a point where it stops being a robot and becomes a vehicle? Anyway, four robot vehicles made the trek from San Francisco to Hawaii in just under four months; a total distance of 3200 nautical miles, well over the previous 2,500 nautical mile record.

The plan is for the robots to assess some of the least approachable parts of the ocean to collect water data including salinity, water temperature, wave characteristics, weather, water fluorescence and dissolved oxygen. [Liquid Robotics via BBC]


    "Which makes me wonder — is there a point where it stops being a robot and becomes a vehicle? "
    I don't think that they are mutually exclusive - a vehicle can be a robot, but doesn't necessarily have to be a robot. And also the other way around. Ie. a car can be made to run autonomously. It is still a vehicle, except now it is also a robot.

      There is no point at which one becomes another. "Robot" is simply a silly word we use to anthropomorphise machines. They are ALWAYS "vehicles" or toasters or mechanical arms, and only ever "robots" if that's what we charmingly decide to call them.

      Think about it. What do "robots" have in common? What differentiates them from other machines? You can come up with things like they're primarily electronic rather than simply mechanical, usually have a lot of programmable computer controlled components, sometimes, usually can perform an array of different complex movements... just machines like any other, but generally more complex.

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