Hi, I'd been looking at flying a UAV from the Dover to Calais or vice versa and got so far as selecting a Skywalker and researching specs for it, but a previous thread I read suggested this would be a no-no legally without "eyes on" the drone trhoughout. As a result, boat looks to be the way forward.

Plenty of groups and individuals have tried to get a boat one way or the other across the Atlantic, all lost to date, all have been custom built, with quite some outlay in most instances. Dover to Calais seems like a relatively easy goal to kick.

At the narrowest, we're only looking at 30 or so KMs between France and the UK, assume 50kms needed for optimal landing point and taking into account drift.

Are there any off the shelf RC boats out there which could feasibly make this trip on battery in up to 7 hours at 4 knotts (considering distance, I don't foresee a need for solar), without being at a a monumental risk of flooding? I'm assuming that the only original item is likely to be to be the body by the time this is finished. Trying to do this on the cheap, so suggestions and input welcome.

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  • Second the suggestion that you need at least a kayak body.  I've been working on this for a while and finally launched the third version of this drone. The hull is from a Kayak and the top was hand made to fit the opening and protect the electronics.  The autopilot is a Pixhawk and the telemetry is done via long range WiFi /4G LTE to a tablet that is connected to the PixHawk. It is powered by a trolling motor and the keel is full of batteries that powers everything and keeps the drone upright.   Hope this helps with your project. 



  • If you want cheap and DIY, get a used (i.e. Craigslist) sea kayak and strap on the gear (i.e. batteries, autopilot, motor, etc.). A sea kayak is one of the most efficient hull designs for a 4 knot craft. Mikota makes great motors (i.e. made for endurance) for strapping on craft such as this. Also, get one of those kayaks where you sit-on-top and not sit-in, that way it'll be unsinkable. They usually have plenty of sealed compartments for electronics, etc.. I've been planning something similar, but only at the planning stage - a intellectual exercise at this point. Everything else is standard FPV gear (i.e. ground control station, gps tracking, Mission Planner, etc.) you can find examples and instructions here and else where online (i.e. YouTube). I don't recommend going the submarine route for that distance, because then you're dealing with signal issues below water.

    Also, be prepared to use directional antennas on both the craft and GCS and/or use satellite communications, which is what i'd do, at least for backup. You might even be able to get a 4G LTE signal all the way across, but I'm just speculating never having been there.

    For a distance of 50km, don't even consider a RC boat of any kind. A kayak will be the smallest you'll need because the craft will need to hold enough weight (i.e. Lithium Ion batteries) to travel that distance. A kayak is designed to hold around 150kg, so that'll be enough.

    The great thing about the kayak is you can also sit in it and test it locally for a 50km distance... you won't need a support boat.

    As you can tell, I've spent a lot of time researching this concept. :P

  • We have a solid 2.6m LOA, 1.8m beam catamaran platform which I believe would survive the journey. It is currently without an engine or electronics, but could be made ready to run.

    I believe the biggest problem you're likely to have is retaining some degree of control and position information without having a support boat ~1km from the vessel. If not, you'd want to conduct some careful testing of the autopilot and especially in such a congested area as the channel need some degree of collision avoidance perhaps via AIS.

    This vessel could achieve on the order of 13km on a 48V, 20Ah battery with a 1.4kW propulsion motor, travelling at around 6km/h

  • Do you have an email address I can forward more information

    We also have another product that allows autonomous driving using your iPhone! First of its kind.

    David Stark said:

    My company can convert any boat/hull into an unmanned vessel using a portable ground control systems. See image attached.

    Please private message me if you would like more information about MAP Pro.

  • My company can convert any boat/hull into an unmanned vessel using a portable ground control systems. See image attached.

    Please private message me if you would like more information about MAP Pro.


    Unmaaner Surface Logo.png

  • Did you see foxtech flew an octocopter 100kms the other day? They replaced lipos with a petrol generator to get endurance.
  • I would guess that he would drive over there and pick it up right when it comes ashore since it might get stolen. Especially if it is a big boat.

  • Hi Mitch,

    Sorry for the late reply. I don't have any experience with autonomous submarines, but always been fascinated by the idea. You could try searching the internet. If you could get the buoyancy just right it might sit just below the surface and have a periscope or radio tower that could be used for gps or telemetry radios. At least it would be hard for anyone to see if there wasn't much above the surface of the water.


  • Hi John,
    Do you have any experience with rc or autonomous submarines? I'm planning on attempting to build one and would like someone who already has experience in the area to bounce ideas off and get some feedback from.
    You can either leave a message for me here or contact me at mitchellleary@hotmail.com

    Hope leaving my email here is allowed. If not, apologies, let me know and I'll delete it.


  • Yes I think it is possible if you use like a 48" catamaran with 8s 20,000 mah batteries. Sailing at night or a submarine would probably be safer. Let us know how it works out

This reply was deleted.