A couple of students at the Chalmers University of Technology have constructed an autonomous boat that is fueled by solar cells. Their aim is to use this boat to cross the Kattegat Sea to reach Denmark, and ultimately study the viabilities of using automatic vehicles at sea.
Josef Vernersson and Niels Jonsson were students in their previous year of the Mechatronics Bachelor of Engineering program at the Chalmers University of Technology, and as part of their degree project, they have constructed an autonomous boat powered by solar cells. Their goal is to make this boat to cross the sea to Denmark, fully self-propelled and utilizing just solar power.
In association with the company Infotiv, Josef and Niels constructed the boat, and the objective of the project is to study the feasibilities of utilizing autonomous vehicles on the sea. The duo also wanted to see what risks and opportunities are accompanied by using solar cells as an energy source at the ocean.
The use of autonomous vehicles at sea is still very new. Currently, it is difficult to extract continuous manual data at sea and the technology is very expensive. If you had a fleet of autonomous boats instead, it would be much cheaper and more efficient.
Niels Jonsson, Student, Department of Applied Mechanics, Chalmers University of Technology
Programmed to go between GPS, the autonomous boat can coordinate by itself and the students can use the GSM network on their mobile phones to follow the boat. The trip is scheduled to begin south of Gothenburg and from there, the solar-powered boat will be launched and travel autonomously to Skagen located in Denmark.
The journey across the Kattegat is an opportunity for us to measure data and get an overview of the risk areas with this type of vehicle. An autonomous boat of this size could, for example, be suitable for use inshore, to collect data and measure water depth.
Josef Vernersson, Student, Department of Applied Mechanics, Chalmers University of Technology
It is important that the boat is as energy-efficient as possible since it is powered by solar cells. Moreover, at the time of the project, the choice of solar cells and energy-efficient electricity systems, among other things, has been significant.
In the coming days, it is hoped that through this new project, the solar-powered boat will contribute considerably to a platform for upcoming projects in the development of vehicles driven by automation and solar cells at sea and on lakes.