The autonomous, solar-powered boat, christened Seacharger is will set on a 2000-mile solo, sea-voyage on this Memorial Day. The boat will start off from the Californian coast for its trip to Hawaii on May 30.
The work on the design of this craft started in late 2013. Damon McMillan, a BS in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT, is the ideator of the Seacharger who initiated this project by gluing more than two dozen pieces of foam, forming a plug for the hull mold. The hull has been designed with the fiberglass covered foam.
The boat is 91 inches in length and 22 inches in width. The propulsion system of the boat is powered by a brushless electric motor. A belt drive reduction mechanism is also included in the system to ensure that the propellers maintain a slow and steady spin.
Two Renogy Photovoltaic panels atop the hull will charge 50 cell LiFePo4 battery bank. The battery has been placed inside the thruster pod made out of a PVC pipe. The thruster pod hangs below the boat by carbon fiber struts.
The autonomous navigation system is Arduino-based. The GPS and the circuitry for the satellite has been embedded between the solar panels present inside a watertight casing. The weight of the craft is 50 pounds and it can cruise along at 3 knots.
The solar-powered craft can manage three cloudy days before the batteries are completely drained and need to be recharged.
Previously, the crafts like Wave Glider and the C-Enduro had been designed such that their power was augmented by the wind as well as the solar power.
Seacharger is the first boat powered only by the solar energy to set off on a sea journey.