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Robotics Transportation

Robotic Boat Hits 1,000-Mile Mark In Transatlantic Crossing 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only-christopher-columbus-had-an-arduino-and-GPS dept.
toygeek writes "'Scout,' a 4-meter-long autonomous boat built by a group of young DIYers, is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It is traveling from Rhode Island, where it launched on 24 August, to Spain, where all being well it will arrive in a few months' time. Scout has now gone about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of its planned 3,700-mile (5,900 kilometer) journey. Should it complete this voyage successfully, its passage will arguably belong in the history books."
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Robotic Boat Hits 1,000-Mile Mark In Transatlantic Crossing

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  • History books?!?! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Talk about a delusions of grandeur. A boat with a computer floated across the ocean.

    Meanwhile, space probes have been going to other planets for more than half a century.

    Somebody is WAAAAY too easily impressed. It's a cool achievment? But historic?!?!?!

    • Yes, it will be historic once it has completed it's journey [or even if it fails].

      As in, it will have happened in the past, and therefore, by definition, part of history. Historic if you will.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Its not the first robot boat to attempt a transatlantic crossing. A load of attempts have been made by sailing boats in the Microtransat Challenge (www.microtransat.org), but none of them have got anywhere near 1000 miles yet.

    • by OzPeter (195038) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:04PM (#44980883)

      Somebody is WAAAAY too easily impressed. It's a cool achievment? But historic?!?!?!

      Its got "an Arduino, of course!" (*) in it .. surely that by itself is enough to make the history books?
       
      * Direct quote from TFA .. including the exclamation mark.

    • Historic? Maybe, if the 'droid army it's carrying conquers Spain

    • It's a cool achievment? But historic?!?!?!

      Tides, rough seas, variable winds, rouge waves... space seems very peaceful in the turbulent vector changes department. Not saying there aren't dangerous conditions, but once you are headed in the correct direction in space you only have to worry about something smacking you in open space... or crippling programming errors that left your vessel blind and deaf. The sea might toss you multiple directions at the same time, and/or let you drop 40 feet from a wave crest. It would be something like a very prolon

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        meh meh meh.
        robot boats have gone the distances before.

        it's the budget of the thing that makes it interesting - and the tech media likes it because of arduino..

    • by sjames (1099)

      In some ways, the boat is much more impressive. Space is a big empty. It is largely predictable. If you set the right trajectory at the start, it will end up where it's supposed to.

      Now, just try to shove a boat off from the pier such that it crosses the ocean and comes to a stop on target.

      Then, let's compare budgets.

      getting an automated boat to cross the ocean successfully, particularly one built by a small team of DIYers is really quite impressive. It hasn't been accomplished to date but this attempt is lo

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.liquidr.com/

  • Cargo size? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @03:51PM (#44980785)

    How much cocaine or heroin can you pack into one of these babies? I'm sure after trying their hand with human piloted semi-submersibles the cartels could be interested in autonomous vehicles.

    After all if you can keeps the contents dry and keep the supply chain flowing it doesn't matter how long the transit time is.

    • by GIL_Dude (850471)
      They would need weaponized autonomous vehicles though. Otherwise the other drug runners would steal from them by capturing their autonomous vehicle. They would need to be hardened from a computer / radio front so that they can't simply be "hacked" to go to a different destination and they would need to be hardened to physical assault so that crazies in rubber boats wouldn't come steal the drugs or simply grab the whole unit.
      • Re:Cargo size? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by OzPeter (195038) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:08PM (#44980913)

        They would need weaponized autonomous vehicles though. Otherwise the other drug runners would steal from them by capturing their autonomous vehicle.

        I severely doubt it. Picture a very low profile boat with a camouflage paint job that pics its own random course between the start and finish waypoints. And with enough smarts to know not to broadcast its whereabouts or to accept instructions from random transmitters. They only way you could intercept something like that is to accidentally hit it.

        • by icebike (68054)

          They only way you could intercept something like that is to accidentally hit it.

          Yes, brilliant.

          To bad we have never invented something that could bounce sound waves off of objects in or under the water so that we could find them even when we can't see them.

          • They only way you could intercept something like that is to accidentally hit it.

            Yes, brilliant.

            To bad we have never invented something that could bounce sound waves off of objects in or under the water so that we could find them even when we can't see them.

            To bad we haven't invented a way to cloak objects from said bounced sound waves... oh, wait...
            http://gizmodo.com/5729554/this-device-makes-objects-invisible-to-sonar [gizmodo.com]

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            To bad we have never invented something that could bounce sound waves off of objects in or under the water so that we could find them even when we can't see them.

            Sonar doesn't work in choppy water where the object you're trying to find is smaller than the chop.

            • by icebike (68054)

              Drug smuggling subs are not smaller than the chop. Google them.

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Drug smuggling subs are not smaller than the chop.

                Right now we're talking about boats, not u-boats. Note topic, try to keep up.

                • by icebike (68054)

                  We are also talking about boats with a useful drug carrying capacity.
                  So back to your bath with your toy boat son, this conversation is for adults.

                  • by drinkypoo (153816)

                    We are also talking about boats with a useful drug carrying capacity.

                    If they're cheap, then each one doesn't have to hold much. You clearly have no idea what these economies look like.

                    • by icebike (68054)

                      Ah, yes, I do.

                      Why don't you play around and build a boat that will transport a pound of butter from central america to the coast of California and let us know your costs and success rate. When 99.9999% of your cargo does not get to where it has to be, it hardly matters how cheap the boat is.

        • Especially if you make it submersible.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They would need weaponized autonomous vehicles though. Otherwise the other drug runners would steal from them by capturing their autonomous vehicle. They would need to be hardened from a computer / radio front so that they can't simply be "hacked" to go to a different destination and they would need to be hardened to physical assault so that crazies in rubber boats wouldn't come steal the drugs or simply grab the whole unit.

        Submersibles would be one way to eliminate one of those larger issues of being seen, drifting just below the surface to still enable comms.

        The harder part would be hardening the computer/radio, for all radio signals are eventually found, and could likely be pinpointed.

        This will likely feed the next-gen autonomous submersibles equipped with encrypting radio hardware that beacon out sync signals at random intervals and on various frequencies to avoid detection.

        (And you thought the military were the ones advan

        • Re:Cargo size? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by OzPeter (195038) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:26PM (#44981005)

          The harder part would be hardening the computer/radio, for all radio signals are eventually found, and could likely be pinpointed.

          You don't need to harden the computer/radio - all you need is code in computer the goes something like:

          Am I near the start or end waypoint?
          Yes - OK listen for instructions from sources that validate in my cryptographic code, but don't announce my location until instructed to.
          No - Shut the radio down and run silent

          Now lets generate 10 semi random way points and head towards them one by one.
          Have I reached one of the computed waypoints?
              Is it the last computed waypoint?
                  No - head for the next computed waypoint
                  Yes - head for the end waypoint.

          If the "opposition" knows where the start and end way points are, or know how to defeat your encryption then you have bigger problems that someone hijacking you cargo.

          • Maybe you are not aware of that, but you can easily localize motored boats and identify them by the sound they emit underwater. The coast line is full of sonar devices and microphones used for many purposes and from which you can extract a signal and signature for a particular submersible or boat vehicle.

            So, no matter how good is your encryption, you cannot really hide permanently. If such vehicles are to be efficient, they will need appropriate propellers and engine.

            And unless you robotized cargo is near e

      • by sjames (1099)

        No, they'd just need a camera so they will know who needs killing.

    • You seem to have a very personal stake in the answer. I don't think you're fooling anyone by referring to the cartels in the third person.

  • I thought they owned that word.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      They own the word as it is associated with a youth organization; a boat is very different. Maybe you should read up on trademarks.

      • They own the word as it is associated with a youth organization; a boat is very different. Maybe you should read up on trademarks.

        Maybe you should read up jokes.

  • Saildrone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:06PM (#44980901)

    Check out Saildrone at http://mstfoundation.org/story/Saildrone. I'm friends with the guys building these and they are pretty cool. The prototype made it half way to Hawaii from California before a broken sensor forced them to turn it around and have it sail back to San Francisco. I believe it did around 2500 miles in that trip

  • by jcochran (309950) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:20PM (#44980975)

    I think that they might have issues with tracking. Or else there's something really, really screwy going on with their boat. Over a period of about 855 hours, the boat has traveled 1383 miles for an average speed of a bit over 1 mph. However, the "real time" tracking page has more than a few data points claiming outrageous speeds, like 95 mph over a 20 minute span. That figure is only the highest I saw. Also saw a few over 70 mph.

    • The ocean has currents. Obviously this craft occasionally encounters some of them.

      • by pseudofrog (570061) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:46PM (#44981159)
        You haven't truly lived unless you've traveled in a 95 mph ocean current.
        • by Longjmp (632577) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @05:00PM (#44981239)

          You haven't truly lived unless you've traveled in a 95 mph ocean current.

          Don't forget avalanche surfing in winter!

        • by icebike (68054)

          Current AND wind, all going in the same direction as your preferred direction of travel is still unlikely to achieve 95 or even 70 mph.

          Something that small with a displacement hull form isn't going to be much above 4 knots max, and ocean currents seldom exceed 6 knots. So unless you had hurricane winds that lifted the entire craft out of the water you aren't going to get anywhere near 20mph, let alone 95.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Speaking of which, I have some serious questions about some of their design decisions.

            Example: it has a square stern, even though there is no necessity for a motor mount or the like. A rudder, sure, but that does not prevent the construction of a "boat tail" design, which is arguably much more efficient.

            The slanted deck puzzled me at first, until I realized that it was for the solar panels, being in the North Atlantic.

            The reverse direction of the bow does have me puzzled, though. It would seem to t
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Hi Jane,
              Just to answer a few questions of yours,

              As for the inverted bow stem I recommend looking into modern sailing yacht design, put the buoyancy where is needed and reduce windage at the same time. In fact it tends to keep the bow from driving in too much and allows for easy resurfacing if the bow does punch in....see AC72 as well as any modern catamaran design...while SCOUT is not a sail boat or cat, similar design goal are in mind especially regarding windage.

              2. We do have a bilge pump, there is an ele

              • "Just to answer a few questions of yours,"

                Hey, thanks for addressing my questions.

                My thoughts about the bow were speculative. Thanks for clearing that up.

                My comments about the bilge were in regard to the pictures linked to in the original post, which did not show any holes at the bottom of the bulkheads for the water to pass through. I thought that was a little strange.

      • Or maybe the probe momentarily fell into a temporal anomaly?

        Almost nobody will protest as robotics eliminates another set of jobs... until it comes towards your job and nobody will defend you when the time comes. ( /. making unemployment the future for everybody outside I.T.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I know that the Wave Glider isn't a traditional boat, but it traveled at least twice as far as Scout is hoping to travel. It isn't quite as fast, but I believe that it has a more dependable source of energy for propulsion.

    http://liquidr.com/news_events/press/2013/2013-05-15-guinness-world-record.html
    http://liquidr.com/news_events/press/2012/2012-12-05-pacx-arrival-australia.html

  • When I first saw the title I thought the people over at FishPi where finally on their way but I was mistaken.

    http://fishpi.org/index.html

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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