The Drone That Will Sail Itself Around the World

An Orange Pixel flickers on the horizon, sandwiched between the inky azure of the mid-Pacific and the robin’s-egg pale of the Hawaiian sky. Richard Jenkins is the first to see it—a sailing robot, which has been blowing our way for a month. We’re in a small motorboat 7 miles out at sea, just north of Oahu’s windward shore. Dylan Owens gets the next good glimpse. “I see the wing,” he exclaims, “and the tail!”

Jenkins and Owens are the engineering duo behind Saildrone, which in the words of their website is “a wind-powered autonomous surface vehicle.” On October 1, the 19-foot craft was set loose in the San Francisco Bay with a simple command lodged in its electronic brain: Sail to Hawaii. For 2,248 nautical miles the boat did the rest. The path it chose happens to be identical to that of the annual Pacific Cup sailing race, and the fastest anyone has traversed this course is just over five days. The single-handed-sailing record is eight and a half days. As Jenkins and Owens look on, Saildrone is about to complete what might be called the first no-handed ocean sail: San Francisco to Hawaii in 34 days. It’s not quick, but then again there is no one aboard to complain.

Full article here: Honey Badger

Views: 1006

Comment by Gary Mortimer on February 18, 2014 at 9:25pm

Reminds me of this race

Comment by Gary McCray on February 18, 2014 at 9:53pm

Nice wing - sail - auto guiding elevon thing.

Makes perfect sense using leverage and the wind force itself to autocorrect the sail angle with a very small control force.

Sort of makes you wonder why it wasn't done before. (Boy I'll bet that gets a response!)

Comment by Reto Buettner on February 19, 2014 at 1:47am

The wingsail with the separate control surface has already been used for the land speed record. Efficient, robust, easy to control and therefore successful!

Comment by mP1 on February 19, 2014 at 7:07am

While impressive, SF to Hawaii is not around the world.


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