Friday, April 24, 2009

Robot Sailing Boat Can Reach Any Given Destination Completely Autonomously

The sail is a lot heavier than one might think. An unusually thick material was used to enable it to withstand the Caribbean storms. (Credit: Image courtesy of SSA/ETH Zurich)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2009) — Mechanical engineering students from ETH Zurich have developed an unmanned sailing boat in a focus project that can reach any given destination completely autonomously. The Avalon robot sailing boat is due to set sail from Ireland in the fall and head for the Caribbean.

The Caribbean is still a long way off. But at least Avalon has already had a taste of the water on Lake Zurich. Admittedly, the first run ended on a sandbank, but that – and everyone agrees – can happen to any sailor. And Avalon has a good excuse: the software program that really enables it to sail by itself is still very much in its infancy. However, the “Students Sail Autonomously” team (SSA) is confident that they can overcome the teething problems.

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