Sending messages in bottles has been around since at least the Ancient Greeks, but it's doubtful that anyone back then sent out a bottle quite like this. As part of a promotional campaign, Solo, a soft drink company based in Norway, recently built an 8-meter (26-foot) tall replica soda bottle outfitted with solar panels, a camera, and tracking technology and set it adrift in the ocean.
When Solo wanted to run a contest involving a sea-worthy bottle, it enlisted Bård Eker, co-owner of several vehicle design companies, to handle the construction. The finished product, which was completed after several months of work, measures 2.5 meters (8 feet) in diameter, weighs 2,500 kilograms (2.7 tons), and is even registered and insured as a boat.
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Solo towed the bottle off the coast of Tenerife in the Canary Islands and left it at the mercy of the currents. Inside the bottle is a case of Solo and a 12 square meter (129 square foot) letter in various languages explaining that whoever finds the giant bottle wins a finders party in the nearest town and lists a phone number to call. The company also set up a website where users can post their guess as to where they think the bottle will eventually land, with a correct guess winning one real bottle of Solo for each nautical mile the oversized one travels.
As you might imagine, you can't just dump a giant bottle into the ocean – at least not publicly – without taking a few legal precautions first. Solo consulted shipping insurance companies, ocean researchers, and marine biologists to ensure that the vessel fit the proper requirements for a drifting object in international waters.
As such, the enormous bottle is equipped with navigation lights, an Automatic Identification System, a radar reflector, and GPS tracking technology, all powered through solar panels on the top. It also has a customized camera that is programmed to tweet a 360-degree panorama every eight hours and is outfitted with nozzles that clear the lenses with fresh water from an onboard tank.
Solo will continue to track the bottle as it travels the Atlantic Ocean and has stated it will collect it whenever and wherever it washes up. The company has even offered to tow it to shore if it nears a coastline that prohibits unmanned vessels from landing.
In a released statement, Solo CEO, Joakim Sande joked, "Hopefully we will not end up breaking Captain Brown's record for the oldest message in a bottle – it roamed the sea for 97 years and 309 days."
Check out the video below to see the construction and launch of the giant Solo bottle.