Over the last year or so we’ve been working on a replacement to our 74 cm long MOOP (Miniature Ocean Observation Platform) sailing robots. In collaboration with Professor Paul Miller from the US Naval Academy we’ve developed the MaxiMOOP, a 1.2 metre long boat with a narrower and deeper keel (but one that’s still integral to the hull) than the original MOOP. This greatly improves the hull speed and upwind performance of the boat. So far we’ve built three hulls, but only two have made it into complete boats. The first of these has been built with ocean sailing in mind, it only has a small mainsail and a large rudder attached directly to the back of the keel. The second has been given over to a group of our undergraduate students for entry into the Sailbot Competition and World Robotic Sailing Championships. Its been designed for speed and features a much larger sail area with a jib and mainsail and a transom hung rudder which gives greater maneuverability but is more likely to snag on seaweed or other debris in the sea.
The plan for the ocean going boat is to do a trans Irish sea crossing during the summer and if that’s a success, then to attempt the Microtransat in the autumn. We’ve named the boat “Morwyn dod Cantre’r Gwaelod”, which is Welsh for Maiden of Cantre’r Gwaled. Cantre’r Gwaled is a mythical Welsh kingdom in Cardigan bay that is often referred to as the Welsh Atlantis, see wikipedia for more info.
The second boat has been adopted by the Aber Sailbot student team who have developed an autonomous control system based around a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino. At time of writing they are about to board a plane with this boat to take it to the Sailbot competition in the USA. Following on the theme of Welsh names this boat is called “Dewi i’r Ddraig” or “David the Dragon”. Keep an eye of their website for updates on how they do at Sailbot.
A couple of videos from the student boat: