Research news

Two autonomous Slovenian sailboats will set sail across the Atlantic Ocean

Publish Date: 29.08.2018

Category: Interdisciplinary research, Our contribution to sustainable development goals

Sustainable development goals: 7 Affordable and clean energy, 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure (Indicators)

Together with the institution Zavod 404, students from five faculties of the University of Ljubljana have spent two years creating an autonomous sailboat named Iris which will set sail and cross the Atlantic next year. Actually, two sailboats will set sail. The crossing is planned to take three months. Within the international Microtransat Challenge, in the past 20 global universities have attempted to manufacture such a sailboat. The most successful one so far has managed to travel halfway. 

Iris is propelled exclusively by wind and is made of glass and carbon fibre. Students actually manufactured two sailboats. Because they couldn't decide whether to build a sailboat propelled by wind or with hydraulic drive, they created two and both will set sail across the Atlantic Ocean.

“The sailboat must sail the route from northern France to French Guiana autonomously. I.e. without a crew, steered by a computer aboard the sailboat, which must also avoid ships and unfavourable weather and bring her in one piece to the finish line,” said Rok Capuder, manager of Zavod 404 and the initiator of the Microtransat project, in a talk for a national radio.

The project, which is implemented by the University of Ljubljana and Zavod 404, links approximately 100 students from five faculties of the University of Ljubljana, i.e. the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Faculty of Maritime Studies and Transport, Faculty of Computer and Information Science, and Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.

The students, organised into eight technical teams, have been planning the sailboat’s voyage since the beginning of the project in 2016. During the project, they developed many innovative solutions.

The merely 2.4-metre-long vessel is constructed of glass fibre with its rigid fins made of woven carbon fibre. A microcomputer controls the movements of the fins. The sailboat will also feature an integrated navigation module that will submit real-time data on the position of the boat and the state of the systems via a telemetric BlueTraker unit.

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