Autonomous boat to sail across the Atlantic – Proof of concept

One year has passed since I launched the autonomous boat OpenTransat that has attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean and I wrote an article about it. The boat is lost in the ocean after being hit by crazy storms, but I didn't give up. Currently, I am working on the next sailboat with improved hardware and software and a more robust construction. Below is the picture of the design which is not final yet – it will be further improved in several aspects.

You see, it's based on interesting concept – a rigid wingsail that's adjusted by a "flap". It works much like an airplane wing. It's not something new – it has been used even on manned yachts:

However, I had no experience with this thing and I wasn't confident enough to believe it can work. Before going to spend a lot of time building a new 2-meter boat that will be designed for extreme ocean conditions, I've decided to build a 65-cm model to test and tweak the concept. Along the path, I've learned skills necessary to build strong composite parts.

The carbon fiber/Kevlar hull is filled with a closed-cell polyurethane foam and painted with a special antifouling paint. This kind of paint doesn't give as smooth finish as a gelcoat or normal paint, but it prevents subaquatic organisms from attaching to the hull.

A waterproof servo is used for steering. As this is just a model for lake testing, the IP67 rating is acceptable here.

The boat uses the same custom hardware and navigation software as the final design. The hardware is optimized for low power consumption and it includes plenty of sensors to provide more insight of what's happening with the boat. The program can be uploaded over Wifi which makes life a lot easier – I can debug and overwrite the program from the shore or motorboat. The battery provides enough power for 8 hours of continuous operation.

The wingsail is made from a foam wrapped with carbon fiber.

And here's the finished boat:

Check out the video of the boat sailing on a lake:

I'm happy to see it works!

You can follow the progress on this facebook page where I share all the details, attempts, mistakes and solutions:
https://www.facebook.com/OpenTransat/

Views: 1063

Comment by James Pike on November 9, 2017 at 10:00am

Thanks for the reply.  Somehow I missed that first image.  Sounds like will give the ocean a fun/challenging thing to try and break.  You have probably run across this guy but he is building something similar for him to ride in (although he is the autopilot).  

http://www.yrvind.com/present_project/

Comment by Andy Osusky on November 9, 2017 at 10:20am

@James Pike Wow, I didn't know about this small manned boat. Thanks for sharing!

I have been following another guy that crossed the Atlantic on a paddleboard-like boat this year.

Comment by James Pike on November 9, 2017 at 10:22am

yrvind is something else.  Makes for pretty interesting reading if you are into sailing.  He invented an amazing sextant.

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