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. The above picture is the design which is not final yet – it will be further improved in several aspects.
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.
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.
And here's the finished boat:
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: