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Longboat Key Friday, Sep. 4, 2009 11 years ago

Where's Waldo?

by: Jessica Luck

Mote scientists are asking for help in finding Waldo, a scientific robot that has been missing since Monday. The robot is an autonomous underwater vehicle, AUV, that had been patrolling the waters off Southwest Florida for five days searching for signs of red tide. The AUVs are designed to glide up, down and forward through the water and send signals to satellites each time they surface.

Mote had been receiving Waldo’s reports every two hours from offshore Venice between Aug. 26 and Aug. 31.

“Then, bam, it just stopped sending a signal,” said Mote scientist Gary Kirkpatrick. “There are a few possibilities that we think are likely. It could have had a major leak or malfunction and sank to the bottom and is just sitting there. Or, it could have had a malfunction with its computer or communication system and is floating on the surface but unable to tell us that it’s there.”

Also, an unsuspecting boater could have picked up the device, not knowing that it was a scientific instrument.

Mote is offering a $500 no-questions-asked reward for the return of Waldo. Anyone with information about Mote’s missing AUV is asked to call 388-4441, Ext. 271.


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