Using Ultrasonic Sensors to Help Control Solar Boats

Once again, Senix Corporation is a proud sponsor of the Solar Boat team in the Netherlands at Technical University Delft. Senix ultrasonic sensors play a key part in controlling the hydrofoiling process, which, in turn, supplies the majority of the boat’s energy efficiency. At the Amsterdam Boat show, the engineering students at TU Delft unveiled their new boat design.

Importance of Sensors in Solar Boats

One thing that is vital to the racing performance is getting the boat hydrofoiling safely and quickly. One mistake means that the boat will crash. The bow and stern-mounted ultrasonic sensors will help the control system to keep an optimum ride height throughout the race once the boat is hydrofoiling.

The aim is to keep the drag-inducing hull out of the water without permitting the propeller or the hydrofoiling control surfaces out of the water. “The control system is key and it is only as strong as its weakest link. Good sensors are important.” According to team Design Engineer, Bart Vonk.

ToughSonic REMOTE 14 Sensors

The new design builds on the previous double-T hydrofoil configuration, but with some crucial differences. To control the altitude of the boat as it lifted to hydroplane, the 2014 boat utilized a Senix ToughSonic 14 ultrasonic sensor at the bow. For telemetry, another ToughSonic 14 was mounted on the stern, but it was not involved in the active control of the boat.

ToughSonic 14 ultrasonic sensors guided the 2014-2015 solar boat which placed third at the Solar1 Cup in Monaco in July 2015. The new design uses energy efficient ToughSonic REMOTE 14 sensors.

ToughSonic 14 ultrasonic sensors guided the 2014-2015 solar boat which placed third at the Solar1 Cup in Monaco in July 2015. The new design uses energy efficient ToughSonic REMOTE 14 sensors.

The new boat incorporates ToughSonic REMOTE 14 sensors in the stern and bow. Both ultrasonic sensors are integrated into a control system which is more sophisticated and manages pitch and altitude.

Designed for utilization in remote liquid level measurement applications such as irrigation automation and flood monitoring systems, Senix’s new REMOTE sensor family possesses IP-68 immersion rating, lower energy consumption, and fast measurement cycle, which made them the perfect choice for hydroplaning control.

The ToughSonic Remote 14’s will measure hull height 100 times per second and transmit data to the Inertial Measurement Unit in ASCII streaming mode for maximum processing speed. According to Bart Vonk, “The ToughSonic sensors are working like a charm.”

About The TU Delft Solar Boat Team

The TU Delft Solar Boat Team is made up of between 20 to 25 students from Delft University of Technology. Every two years, the team designs and builds a new solar-powered hydrofoil boat and takes part in a race in the World Cup of solar boat racing, the biennial Dutch Solar Challenge.

In Monaco in July, 2015, the previous Solar Boat team finished an impressive third at the Solar1 Cup. In preparation for the Dutch Solar Challenge world championship this summer, the boat, which was unveiled this week, will start sea trials in April.

About Senix Corporation

Senix designs and manufactures advanced ultrasonic sensors to be used for distance measurement, liquid level measurement, and object detection. Senix ToughSonic® sensors are employed in a large scope of research and automation applications globally.

The TU Delft Solar Racing Team are the latest among several marine engineers and boat designers to utilize ToughSonic sensors for marine applications. Multiple America’s Cup sailing teams employ Senix ultrasonic sensors for hydrofoiling control, including the defending champions Oracle Team USA.

Additionally, ToughSonic sensors are utilized to measure motion and freeboard height on ocean cargo ships and barges. Senix ultrasonic sensors can be used wherever accurate, fast, and reliable level and distance measurements are needed.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Senix Corporation.

For more information on this source, please visit Senix Corporation.

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