Robot swims over 9000 nautical miles unaided (and other things we didn't cover)

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Papa Mau robotLiquid Robotics

Robots don't need us any more—not when they can take to the high seas and travel across oceans unaided. Meanwhile, an old airplane—one that relied on a human operator—got turned into a kindergarten classroom. Travel is transforming in today's edition of GeekBytes.

Record-breaking robot swims from San Francisco to Australia unaided [Liquid Robotics]

It was once the work of noble explorers to sail the seven seas and explore new lands. But these days, a little robot can do all the work. The PacX Wave Glider, created by Liquid Robotics and affectionately known as Papa Mau, recently completed its year-long solo journey. Along its 9000-nautical mile trip (a bit over 10,350 customary miles) from San Francisco to Queensland, Australia, the self-controlled swimming bot collected data on the ocean's ecosystem and temperature. The little bot battled storms and sharks to set a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle. [via BBC]

Kindergarten kids go to school onboard a refurbished plane [Straits Times]

We're big fans of adaptive reuse, so we were delighted to see a Georgian pre-school making use of an old plane in a super cool way. Yup, kids that attend this kindergarten in the city of Rustavi get to play and learn all day long onboard a retired Yakovlev Yak-42. If that doesn't make you jealous of your five-year-old self, I don't know what will.

Although the plane was refurbished and remodeled to house a classroom, the cockpit was left intact. Reusing an old airplane in this way sure is unique, but whether it takes off (get it?) beyond the Georgian kindergarten remains to be seen.

Someone petitioned the US Government to build a Death Star by 2016 [WhiteHouse.gov]

Let's go beyond Earthbound travel for a minute and talk about space travel. In what can only be described as a flagrant—if amusing—misuse of the democratic process, someone created a petition asking the US Government to "secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016." So far, over 5000 people have signed the petition. It sounds like a logistical nightmare, but I guess it's one way to stimulate the economy. [via Gizmodo]

Updated Dec 5, 2012, 9:50pm: The Liquid Robotics bot travelled over 9000 nautical miles, not 9000 customary (land-based) miles, as originally stated in the article. That equates to over 10,350 custiomary miles. A nautical mile is roughly 6076 feet, while the more widely used customary mile is 5280 feet.

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