"Pinta", the first robot sailboat that wants to cross the Atlantic, is towed to the starting line
Scientists from the University of Aberystwyth in the UK have sent a computer-controlled sailboat on a long journey. The start took place on the west coast of Ireland, the destination is the Caribbean. However, the chances of the three-meter-long “Pinta” to successfully complete the three-month trip are slim.
Last Saturday at 1:45 p.m. GMT the time had come. Computer specialist and sailing enthusiast Dr. Mark Neal and his team sent the "Pinta", the name of the unmanned boat, on its way across the Atlantic. After a few initial cross courses, it has passed the first waypoint on the official racing course and is currently around 40 nautical miles off the western coast of Ireland.
"Pinta" officially takes part in the Microtransat Challenge. This is a race across the Atlantic from east to west, in which only 100 percent autonomous sailing boats are allowed to participate. The organizers intend to use the race to promote the development of such autonomous yachts worldwide.
By the launch day, however, only the Aberystwyth team had managed to build a competitive boat. A second team from France had to cancel their participation at short notice, but hopes to be able to follow suit in a few weeks.
The "Pinta" has already passed its first test. At the beginning of the week she had to fight with almost 30 knots of wind. But that was probably just a foretaste of what was coming up the boat shortly.
"Pinta" is launched
"A wind of up to 40 knots is predicted for the coming days," reports "Pinta" initiator Neal. Although it is very well equipped to withstand one or the other capsizing. "The sensitive technology on board is hardly able to withstand permanent extreme loads ", so Neal. Even if this was sealed off as best as possible against the ingress of water.
The boat, a 2.95 meter long and 1.20 meter wide keel dinghy with Bermudarigg of the Topper Taz type, is equipped with an on-board computer in which the race track is stored, as well as wind sensors and a GPS. The electricity for this is provided by 16 12-volt batteries that are permanently recharged with the help of solar cells. The boat transmits its current position to the shore team on a daily basis via a satellite phone.
An electric winch is on board for trimming and is controlled with the help of a tiller pilot. Pint displaces around 150 kilograms, 25 kilograms hang as ballast on the almost one meter deep keel.
Even Dr. Neal. "If we lose 'Pinta' in a few days, which I assume, we can at least boast that we were the creators of the world's first autonomous sailing shipwreck." Something like that is probably called British humor.
"Pintas" course since the start off the coast of Ireland. The last position is from September 14th. The first waypoint is marked in blue
As long as "Pinta" is still sailing, everyone can follow their current position on the Internet at www.microtransat.org/tracking.