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Frequent visitors to this front page know we’re pretty infatuated with unmanned sailboats, and we’ve followed the cool HarborWing project for years.  But while Harborwing seems focuses on finding coastal tasks for its unmanned, winged platform, the SailDrone is off doing its own Transpac – and it’s almost there.

That’s right – according to the SailDrone Tracker, this 15-foot unmanned trimaran has averaged almost 5 knots through its first 1745 NM from San Francisco to Hawaii, with just 447 to go.  It’s controlled via its own navigation package combined with instructions via satellite link and a smartphone. The coolest part?  The SailDrone isn’t just for science, though it’s already being tested for three big scientific missions; it’s also a cargo carrier!  Can you imagine thousands of these things, each carrying 100 KG of cargo around the world?  Autonomous, hive-based transport via wind power seems like a pretty cool solution to all sorts of shipping problems, and a boat designed to be submerged and rolled and keep on sailing…what an awesome way to send a birthday present to your sailing pal.  Never mind the Colombian cartels; a little camo paint and a production line for these things and you’ve got a very nice way to millions worth of drugs. Not that we would ever, ever suggest that such a thing would be good. Nope, not us.

More discussion here and a pretty awesome video of the SailDrone rounding the Farallones Islands here.

October 28th, 2013

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