Saturday, September 18, 2010

Robotic boat transatlantic Challenge

Pinta the robotic boat could take three months to sail the Atlantic

From BBCNews

An unmanned robotic yacht has been launched off the Irish coast as part of a transatlantic challenge, although it is not expected to complete it.

Pinta is 3m long and was built by scientists at
Aberystwyth University, who have carried out sea trials and taken part in competitions since 2006.
But this is the first time their boat has attempted the
Microtransat Challenge ocean crossing.

Aberystwyth is the only team competing in this year's challenge.
It was conceived by academics in Aberystwyth and Toulouse, France.

Teams from around the world, who have taken part in previous years, have used on-board sensors and GPS technology to help their boats sail themselves from courses set by computer.

Mark Neal, one of the founders of the challenge from Aberystwyth University, said the aim was to build robots that could survive in hostile environments for long periods.

But he said he did not expect his boat, Pinta, to succeed.
He added: "We're the only team taking part this year."
A team from Brest in France (
Breizh Spirit from ENSIETA) pulled out at the last minute partly because of the weather conditions.

"I don't think Pinta will succeed because there are some horrible weather conditions out there. There are 35 to 40 knot winds and the remnants of a hurricane.

"It will probably capsize. It is waterproof, but it won't survive the continual flipping over.
"At this point it could well turn out to be the world's first robotic sailing boat shipwreck."

If Pinta were to survive the next few days of storms and manage to claw her way off the Irish coast then her final destination is the Caribbean and the crossing should take at least three months. (see

Dr Neal, who has been helped by Phd student
Colin Sauze, said Pinta was crafted from a child's dinghy and "second-hand and cheap parts".

Complete with small solar panels, the boat can be programmed to sail the course of a race but must be propelled by just the wind.

Links :
  • ENSICA, Nantes France
  • YouTube : Dolphin Gaspar (Jean Floc'h) playing with FEUP autonomous sailtboat (FASt)

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