Monday, November 23
Our second day was all about gliders! We started off walking to the Cal Poly Pier, where we saw a lot of sea lions, sea otters, pelicans and a lot of other bird species.
We then took a tour of the pier and had a safety briefing. We learned that the pier was originally used for oil transport. The pier was abandoned in 1994 after an oil spill occurred. In 2003 it was rebuilt as a marine research facility. The pier is now designed to outlast any storm; its platform is made of steel and has holes in the floor so that the water could filter out.
After the safety briefing we all gathered around the SLOCUM glider RU16 and opened it up to check out the hardware. The glider has a bladder that fills with air in the tail cone to keep the tail out of the water. This makes communicating with satellites easier. The front of the glider (also known as the head cone) can be filled with water so that it sinks. In the middle there are batteries and other hardware. We learned a lot about ballasting the glider to make it sink without a roll or pitch at a 26 degree angle. Some of the Norwegian students interrupted the lecture to give us their custom made coffee mugs.
Using what we learned, we put the glider in a water tank to see how it looked. The tail was slightly heavier than the front, but not significant for the launch.
Then we all ate lunch in the sun behind the marine lab building. The meal was delicious and the sun was relaxing, which was perfect for cold adapted students from Norway. We also got to see some big whales in the horizon. Basically it was a perfect lunch setting!
After lunch we learned a lot about how to program the gliders and how to prepare them for missions. We planned a mission which you all can follow on Google earth.
After the meal we headed back to the Avila beach Marine Institute for a late evening lecture from Chris Clark about autonomous control and state estimation of robots. We learned that robots go through a procedure involving perception, localization and cognition, which is then used to perform a controlled motion. We got a robot demonstration with the robotics lab program and a cute little robot.
We're looking forward to tomorrow's glider launch!