Robotic Sailing Boats - Reference Material?

I’m toying with the idea of building a robot boat. I’m pretty sure that a sailing boat is a much more complex undertaking than a power boat, but it’s an idea I’m willing to gestate for a while.

Does anyone have experience with robotic or remote control sailboats?

Does anyone have access to “Robotic Sailing 2014
Proceedings of the 7th International Robotic Sailing Conference”
? There are a few articles in there that might be of interest to me, but I’m not ready to shell out £100 on a speculative purchase just now.

How complex do you want the automation to be? ie. following waypoints, object avoidance, etc.

A cheap boat from Hobbyking would be a good start. Couple that with some sensors, microcontroller and you’d be set.

One thing to think about is how to recover the boat if it fails offshore…

Thankfully we’re in Canberra, so while I wouldn’t want to swim in our “water” the options include “wait for it to be blown ashore”, “paddle out on a board to pick it up” or even “sail an actual sailboat out to pick up the robot sail boat” :smiley:

My long term plan is to follow waypoints around the lake, under sail when wind is available, switching to power otherwise. Just keep looping around the waypoints allowing its payload to do whatever (e.g.: measure water temperature) and transmitting results back to base.

A wind speed/direction sensor would be an interesting problem to solve :smile:

As always, my first instinct would be to “stick a Pixhawk on it”. There’s not a sailboat branch of Ardupilot though.

Compass, gyros, GPS, accelerometers would work. Some sort of device for measuring speed in the water would be useful too.

Definitely a fun project. I’m interested!

Measuring speed through water:

  1. The ancient method of dropping a plank in the water and counting time, then measuring the amount of line drawn out by the plank

  2. Slightly less ancient method of a paddlewheel or pinwheel in the water, measuring rate of rotation

  3. More modern version which is a pitot tube

I think I may have found the only eHow article that is remotely useful. http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4739856_boat-speedometer-work.html

Someone here just mentioned http://www.gobot.io

It’s a robotics language framework for GoLang.