Glider Yoko | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

Glider Yoko

The glider, also a torpedo-shaped vehicle excels in multi-week deployments in open ocean and sea. It can follow a pre-determined track of waypoints where it continuously moved vertically in the water column, essentially sampling a vertical plane in the water column

What is a glider?

A glider is long-endurance autonomous vehicle, which undulates through the water column along a pre-defined path. By changing its volume through an expanding and shrinking a bladder, it changes its buoyancy, thus inducing a vertical motion. The heaviest part of the internals – the batteries – can move forward and backward, and rotate around the axis of the glider. By doing so, the glider can change its pitch and roll angles. Combined with the fins in the back of the glider, all this actuation allows controlling the speed and direction of the vertical and horizontal motions.

A set of waypoints are programmed in the glider, and as soon it is in the water it will start moving along these. A glider is constantly doing V-shaped movements (a dive followed by a surfacing)and this is how it covers horizontal distance. One up-and-down movement is called a "yo", similar to a yo-yo.

Every time the glider reaches the surface, it sticks out its antenna on the back and communicates with the shore control station over satellite for updated information and/or data offload to shore.

Why use a glider?

The low power nature of the vehicle, coupled with the ability to pilot it from anywhere in the world (with an internet connection), makes the glider ideal for remote operations. These vehicles are often used in harsh polar environments or in the deep sea where they can operate for months on end. The low logistics nature of the vehicle allows it to be deployed by a single technician from almost any size ship. 

Because it is constantly moving up and down through the water column, the glider samples the track at a very high spatial resolution.  This is interesting for all types of research, most notably oceanographic.

The SeaExplorer Yoko glider also has the following features:

  • Long endurance; can stay out at sea for several weeks (depending of sensor payload)
  • Easy to deploy. Gliders don't require special lunch systems or large vessels
  • Remotely operable. Gliders can be steered from anywhere with an internet connection
  • Dives deep, these vehicles are about to sample up to 1000m of water. 
  • It is an instrument without any externally moving parts, which makes it silent and clean, thus making it an interesting platform for trace metal research* or acoustic research.
  • Custom sensor integrations - SeaExplorer allows for the integration of custom sensors

How to make use of the glider?

For more information about the device and in case of interest in using it for scientific research, please contact the VLIZ Marine Robotics Center:  .

Technical details

  • Physical dimensions:
    • Length: 2m + 1m fold-able antenna
    • Diameter: 25cm
    • Weight 60kg
  • Operational Parameters
    • Depth rating: 1000m
    • Speed: 0.5 knots nominal
    • Endurance: Variable - up to 64 days depending on sensor configuration
    • Battery: Lithium-Ion rechargeable
    • Charging time:  ~20 hours
    • Communication
      • Iridium
      • radio
  • Scientific payload
    • Oceanographic set-up
      • Altimeter for bottom detection
      • Pressure sensor
      • CT
      • ECO-puck for turbidity and chlorophyll-A
      • Dissolved oxygen
    • Trace metal set-up with collector cups