Marine

A solar-powered, autonomous boat is currently crossing the Atlantic

A solar-powered, autonomous bo...
The unmanned solar-powered boat, Solar Voyager, is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean
The unmanned solar-powered boat, Solar Voyager, is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean
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Solar Voyager in the water at Gloucester, MA, alongside The Adventure schooner
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Solar Voyager in the water at Gloucester, MA, alongside The Adventure schooner
Solar Voyager during its sea trials in Goucester Harbor, earlier this year
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Solar Voyager during its sea trials in Goucester Harbor, earlier this year
The unmanned solar-powered boat, Solar Voyager, is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean
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The unmanned solar-powered boat, Solar Voyager, is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean
Solar Voyager's journey is expected to take four months, and its progress can be tracked on the project's website
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Solar Voyager's journey is expected to take four months, and its progress can be tracked on the project's website
If Solar Voyager makes the trip to Portugal, it will be the first autonomous boat to cross the Atlantic, as well as the first vessel to cross an ocean using solar power alone
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If Solar Voyager makes the trip to Portugal, it will be the first autonomous boat to cross the Atlantic, as well as the first vessel to cross an ocean using solar power alone
Solar Voyager has an aluminum hull, which makes it heavy and less efficient, but lets the boat withstand more punishment
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Solar Voyager has an aluminum hull, which makes it heavy and less efficient, but lets the boat withstand more punishment
Solar Voyager was designed and built by Isaac Penny and Chris Sam Soon
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Solar Voyager was designed and built by Isaac Penny and Chris Sam Soon
Isaac Penny and his father David, with the Solar Voyager behind them
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Isaac Penny and his father David, with the Solar Voyager behind them
Solar Voyager is also equipped with an onboard GoPro
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Solar Voyager is also equipped with an onboard GoPro
Solar Voyager is lowered into the water at Gloucester Harbor
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Solar Voyager is lowered into the water at Gloucester Harbor
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While we keep an eye on the journey of Solar Impulse 2, the solar-powered plane that's currently in the middle of its record-setting, around-the-world flight, it looks like it has a buddy in the water. Solar Voyager, an autonomous, solar-powered kayak, is currently making its way across the Atlantic Ocean.

The idea follows in the wake of the Klepper E-Kayak, but while the E-Kayak is an add-on kit for a human-powered vessel, the Solar Voyager is designed to be completely unmanned. It can reach a top speed of 3 mph (5 km/h) running off a 280-watt array of solar panels, stored in batteries for night-time travel, and connects to the Iridium satellite constellation to navigate to preprogrammed GPS waypoints.

The robo-boat itself is 18 feet (5.5 m) long and 2.5 feet (0.76 m) wide, with a hull made of aluminum. Due to that design, the boat tips the scales at around 550 lb (250 kg), which the project team acknowledge is a drawback in terms of drag and efficiency, but the trade-off was made for a sturdier, more stable vessel, with better resistance against mechanical shocks.

Solar Voyager has an aluminum hull, which makes it heavy and less efficient, but lets the boat withstand more punishment
Solar Voyager has an aluminum hull, which makes it heavy and less efficient, but lets the boat withstand more punishment

Prioritizing strength could make all the difference between success and failure in the open ocean, as the Solar Voyager makes its way across the Atlantic. It was launched from Gloucester, Massachusetts, on June 1, and is attempting to reach Lisbon, Portugal, a journey which is expected to take four months. Every 15 minutes during its travels, the vessel reports its location, as well as details like its speed, bearing, weather and power generated and consumed.

If it's successful, Solar Voyager will be the first autonomous boat to cross the Atlantic, as well as the first to cross any ocean using solar power alone – a title it could claim from the Seacharger, which was recalled six hours into its trip from California to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago.

You can follow Solar Voyager's progress on a map on the project website, or with regular updates on Twitter.

Source: Solar Voyager

View gallery - 10 images
7 comments
watersworm
18 feet long and 3 mph "fast"... "Bon début"...Let's stay tuned !
Wolf0579
If death was not final, and your mind survived your body's death (so unlikely, we don't even consider the possibility) Nikola Tesla would be smiling somewhere!
No gods, no devils, just the universe.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
This could become the main way of collecting solar energy.
DavidDow
"If Solar Voyager makes the trip to Portugal, it will be the first autonomous boat to cross the Atlantic, as well as the first vessel to cross an ocean using solar power alone." this is totally as false statement, Planet Solar made an around the word voyage a couple of years ago.
pmshah
What is with people? This will just make it easier for drug smugglers without any chance of being caught!
nickyhansard
@pmshah Just anybody could do this with a sailboat or petroleum powered boat...
The hardware and software is available on many hobby shops.
The impressive thing about this is that it is solar powered.
CameronBerry
@DavidDow Solar Voyager is "autonomous" ...PlanetSolar was piloted