Bad Weather Avoidance systems

Hi all,

Can any of you point me in the direction of hardware and/or software that is currently out there that I can use on my autonomous boat.

Ideally, I'd like it to be able to identify adverse weather conditions ahead and adjust its course accordingly to avoid or stop to wait until the weather system has passed.

Any and all suggestions and advice would be very welcome.



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  • I don't know of any system off the top of my head, but if you have access to internet on the boat, I bet someone could create a system which will check the weather from wunderground's API for the current location, then based on wind (or whatever metric you want) would either stop the boat or resume mission as needed. 

    Unfortunately, I can dream, but I do not have the skills to create such a system. 

    I'll add to this my to-learn-how-to-do list, which at this point is more like a phone book than a list lol

    • Thanks @AntimatterCrusader!

      I was unaware of Wunderground's API and having now looked into it, I think you might be onto something. I'm going to run it by someone who I think might be able to come up with the solution you're talking about. If he can. I'll share my findings.

      Looking forward to seeing your list! Keep up the good work!

    • I've spent a lifetime at sea, served as ships navigator in the US Navy as well as Merchant Marines.  Here are my thoughts on your question:

      A couple things you need to consider when designing a solution:

      First, what area will you be traversing?  Will it have severe weather regularly or infrequently?  Can you plan a track (both geographically and by season) that avoids the greatest percentage of bad weather?

      Second, how fast will your vessel be capable of traveling?  Will it be fast enough to actually avoid a storm or will it, at best, only be able to avoid the worst of a storm?

      In my opinion, if you are going to have internet (and thus satellite comms) then you are probably better off managing the vessel's track from shore.  That way you have endless resources at your disposal to evaluate the weather situation.

      If you won't have satellite comms and the vessel will be entirely autonomous, then perhaps a computer-based implementation of "Buys Ballot's Law" which uses barometric pressure and wind direction to estimate the centers of a Low and High pressure.  Here's an article:  and video:  which should help you understand the principal.

      Buys Ballot's law
      In meteorology, Buys Ballot's law (Dutch pronunciation: [ˌbœy̯s bɑˈlɔt]) may be expressed as follows: In the Northern Hemisphere, if a person stands…
    • Hi @bigkahuna, Nice to hear from you!

      The boat will be traversing the Atlantic at various times of the year and won't be fast enough to outrun a storm so avoidance would be the number 1 priority.

      The vessel will have satellite comms onboard which will mean we can adjust course as we see fit and you bring up an excellent point about managing course from shore. This will be the option we choose if we can't find an alternative as it needs to be monitored 24 hours a day.

      What I was wondering is if there is any way of monitoring weather from shore and programming software that can automatically adjust the vessel's course based on real time weather forecasting that already exists? This could then be adjusted manually and managed in real-time during daylight hours but could at least "babysit" the vessel at night.

      Thanks for the great advice!

    • @Mitchell - It sounds like you've never crossed an ocean by boat before.  If you had, you would know that the weather you experience on the boat may vary enormously from what appears on a weather chart.  If you were to vary your heading based on what weather you are experiencing on the boat then you could very well sail in circles.  What we lack from the deck of a boat is the "big picture" and that's why mariners use weatherfax and other land based weather information sources.

      I think you also missed my point about boat speed.  If a storm traveling at 20 knots is heading your way and your boat travels at 4 knots, you aren't likely able to "avoid it".  Storms can be tens, hundreds or even thousands of miles across in size.  Their tracks can be unpredictable.  The best you can hope for is to be in a weaker section of the storm when it reaches you.

    • @bigkahuna - I understood you perfectly and reiterated exactly what you had said, in agreement. I think you may have misunderstood my post.

      I said that monitoring weather from a land-based weather management system(managing course from shore in my previous post) is what we will choose and monitor manually from land, sending adjusted waypoint coordinates as necessary to avoid dangerous weather systems. I absolutely know that there is no way to avoid a weather system by taking evasive action as it reaches you. That's just silly.

      I'm sure I mentioned "from shore" many times throughout my post, what I was saying is that as AntiMatterCrusader had previously said, there may be a software programmer who can take the land-based weather monitoring systems and programme them to watch for potentially dangerous conditions that may threaten the vessel whether that be Weatherfax or whatever and then send a course readjustment signal to the vessel to attempt to avoid the storm's course which may arrive in hours or days. This is obviously by no means 100% for as you pointed out, storms can be unpredictable and can pop up but the major systems can be tracked.

      With regards to the speed - nope - I didn't miss your point. I never expected my boat to "see" a storm coming and try and outrun it. By "avoid", I was saying avoid a weather system#s course that may be tracking a course which will threaten my vessel's direction based on weather-monitoring "on shore" "on land" or wherever the non-boat based control centre is located(not on the boat).

    • @Mitchell - Sorry if I misunderstood your post.  I know there are services that the shipping industry use to avoid storms but I'm not aware of a software that will do it automatically.  The problem I ran into while using a forecasting service is that by the time they evaluated the data they had, that weather had already moved and so was already out of date.  No doubt the technology is constantly improving and so will the accuracy of weather forecasting.

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