Do we call it a roboat? The first unmanned and autonomous sailboat has successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean, completing the 1,800 mile journey between Newfoundland, Canada, and Ireland in two and a half months.
“This has never been done before! The Sailbuoy [robotic boat] crossed this distance all by itself without incident. The significance of this is that it proves that one can use unmanned surface vehicles to explore the oceans for extended periods and distance. This greatly reduces the cost of exploring the oceans, and therefore enables a much more detailed knowledge of the oceans than is possible using conventional manned technology.,” explained David Peddie, CEO of Norwegian-based Offshore Sensing AS, which built the vessel.
According to Peddie, the journey was surprisingly uneventful when it came to dealing with major challenges. That’s a significant departure from the 20 previous unsuccessful efforts made by teams trying to complete the challenge since it started in 2010.
“We had to wait a while for the right wind conditions to deploy safely; otherwise, the crossing has been normal with not too much wind and waves. We had to avoid some oil platforms, but this is not unusual since we test in the North Sea.” He also noted that an effort was made to stay away from other ships, since there was a risk that the boat may have been picked up by passing traffic.
Sailbuoy ships cost $175,000 each and are powered by on-board solar panels. They send constant GPS data to reveal exactly where they are located.
Some more interesting testing would be to see how much wind the boat can stand, like in hurricane conditions.