SolarSurfer Continuation Project

Specs are now a follows:

  • Length: 3 meters
  • Draft: 0.4 meters; specifically designed for sailing over shallow reefs.
  • Height above waterline: 0.1 meters to top solar panels; minimal wind influence.
  • Weight: 140 kg
  • Over a period of clear sunny days, sailing speed (it sails day and night) is simulated 0.8m/s. So, 70 km/day is theoretically possible.
    To save energy during an unexpected cloudy day, the boat can be ordered to remain at one location, losing minimal energy doing so.
  • The boat steers by its thrusters; there are no moving parts which can wear out.
  • The boat is actively self-righting.
  • Under the bow are 2 sonar sensors, pointing down under an angle, to prevent collision with underwater obstacles.
  • In a self-cleaning red-filter camera dome are 2 gimbal stabilized cameras, pointing down under an angle in sailing direction.
    During a mission it’s possible to make HD photos and videos, but also Stereoscopic ones. Videos shot, are be typically 60 second in length.
    These will be made sailing randomly (close) around a point-location of interest, or between 2 way-points.
  • There are 2 underwater illumination lamps present, one top-down and one in view direction; this for better lightning and maybe monitoring at night.
  • 100 videos of 60 seconds, or 2850 photos can be made and saved during each mission day. This data is saved on a USB stick, which is to be retrieved from boat-deck after a mission.
  • The specially written navigation software makes sailing, as much as possible, in straight lines between waypoints, as it “learns” from offsets due to current, wind and waves.
  • The boat sends daily updates of locations and status by satellite to operator. Operator can change a mission during sailing ones a day.
  • By use of an external commercially available datalogger, water temperature and pH value can be recorded during a mission, and afterwards linked to locations.
  • The collected photos and videos with taken routes and view-directions during filming, will be presented using Google Earth. This by special PC software, which makes KML files with links to the stored data.

However, regulations are going to be a big hurdle in commercializing this.
In not many places in the world, they will just let such unmanned boat sail around. Even if it could be helpfully with reef monitoring programs.

In this stage, I’m looking for cooperation with people or organizations, who are interested in the promising possibilities of this USV, and who do already have experience/knowhow in placing such marine autonomous vehicles on the market.

Further under development, yet most work done already:

  • A third camera for RC, by Long Range WiFi; making HD/3D photos or videos direct on target
  • This third camera for object detection and animal following (during filming)
  • eDNA sampling at 24 locations
  • Water sampling at 24 or 12 locations

Hi Cas,

that’s a really nice project which looks very professional. looking forward to your next update.
i wondered if you maybe could explain your self righting device a bit more in detail. does it pump in water?

Hi Bastiaan,

Thanks. On one side, the buoyancy is done by a air-filled PVC flat hose. If the boat is found upside down, the air is pumped out of this hose, which shift’s the center of buoyancy to the other side, just enough to let it roll back over. Then, the hose is pumped full air again. There you go; its public now, nobody can patent the idea :wink:
The proto is currently in the Maldives for sea trials, in cooperation with Reefscapers. I had it sailing already, but not yet success making videos under water. I have to shuttle to there and back home, to make modifications in hardware and software, but it looks still fine. Most important, it will be able to operate 1-day missions of 25km, at a current of up to 3.5 m/s. As current is the biggest spoiler, that is good news. I go back for new test, begin of Feb '24.

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