The University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) team who did the pilot deployment of the P30M liquid robot in Tubbataha.

The University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) recently announced it had successfully tested a newly-acquired autonomous surface vehicle in the Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park.

The so-called “wave glider”, costing P30 million, is expected to be deployed in the country’s marine parks for research purposes, according to UP-MSI.

Dr. Caroline Marie B. Jaraula, assistant professor at the UP-MSI organic and stable isotope geochemistry laboratory, said the equipment is a pioneer in liquid robotics in the Philippines and will revolutionize marine surveillance and monitoring in marine protected areas.

“We are proud with the result of the successful deployment. When we got the package, the distributor was even worried kasi fastest turn-around time na two weeks pa lang idedeploy na sya. Other countries usually check and test it for five months. The distributor even had to send their Asia Pacific personnel to make sure na everything is working properly,” Jaraula said.

The wave glider is being operated by scientists in UP-MSI station in Quezon City 24/7 and it can generate instant results on temperature, salinity, water quality, current directions and current speed among others.

“Tubbataha is one of three test sites including Boracay and Bolinao. We chose to do the pilot test here because it is a pristine and remote site—malayo at mahirap puntahan—ganitong problems yung gusto naming masolusyunan with this type of technology,” Jaraula said.

She said the pilot test aims to evaluate the hypothesized dual role of ASV for real-time environmental monitoring and maritime surveillance in the park.

“We want to push real-time marine monitoring in the Philippines especially archipelagic tayo. The traditional surveillance and monitoring takes days—napapanis yung sample before it even gets to the lab,” Jaraula added.

The UP-MSI team is set to return on April 2020 to replicate their activities during the wet season.