Robotic Boat Attempts Atlantic Crossing
Kyle Maxey posted on September 30, 2013 |
Autonomous boat has travelled 1000 miles en route from Rhode Island to Spain

boat, spain, robot, DIY, autonomous, studentsA robotic boat designed and built by a group of students has just passed the 1000-mile (1,600km) mark on its journey from Rhode Island to Spain.

Scout, the 12 foot long (3.7meter) craft, could make robotic watercraft history if it succeeds in its journey across the Atlantic. 

While crossing the Atlantic is commonplace for commercial vessels, it’s still not without difficulties. Bad weather, strong currents and loss of navigation systems can leave any vessel stranded in the open ocean.  That goes doubly so for Scout, a boat designed to operate autonomously.

Back in 2010 a group of students, led by now 21 year old Dylan Rodriguez, thought it would be cool to build an autonomous boat that could cross the ocean.  He teamed up with 6 other students last August, one Kickstarter campaign and a few years later, the team of students launched Scout. 

Controlled by an Arduino board and encased in a carbon fiber hull, Scout is designed to stay afloat and on course without a crew. To ensure the vessel stays seaworthy throughout its journey, Scout’s hull was built with an angled upper deck. To complement the ship’s shape, the interior of its hull is lined with lead to keep the hull facing down and the deck facing up.

Although Scout has done well, it has given the design team some worries. Not long after it set sail, a coding error caused Scout to ignore many of the designated GPS waypoints.  That sent the team into a round of cross-checking.  They now believe the boat is still on course to arrive in Spain.

 

Regardless of whether or not Scout makes the landing on target, the entire effort to make an autonomous Atlantic crossing represents an impressive engineering feat.   Creating a complex, autonomous vessel is impressive.  Having it pass the 1000-mile mark is a testament to excellent engineering and design.

 

Image Courtesy of Scout Transatlanic

 

Source: IEEE Spectrum

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