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Solar powered ‘SolarSurfer’ will autonomously travel from LA to Hawaii

SolarSurfer - robotic solar-powered surfboard 2

A team of three, namely Rustom Jehangir, Joe Spadola and Josh Villbrandt planned to follow their passion for marine explorations, for which they planned to build a solar surfboard robot last year to take on robotic marine explorations. The surfer could carry a variety of marine exploration tools like robotics, cameras etc.

SolarSurfer - robotic solar-powered surfboard

However, to start with, the team planned a journey for the surf board robot that would travel autonomously from Los Angles to Hawaii using a pair of solar powered thrusters. The solar panels on the top surface board would generate enough amount of energy to produce a thrust of over 5lb (2.36kg).

SolarSurfer - robotic solar-powered surfboard 3

An eight feet long surfboard with solar panels can generate 120 W of electricity. The energy is stored in lead acid batteries which is then supplied to electronics and thrusters.

SolarSurfer - robotic solar-powered surfboard 4

A 3D Robotics APM2.6 with a uBlox GPS and a RockBLOCK satellite radio would guide the surfer. A two way communication could be established to monitoring the movement of the surfer or to update its course.

blue robotic marine thruster

The device operates at 12 Volt and a maximum current of 11.5 amps. With the maximum load it comes down at 20g/W but still beats the expensive ones in its category.

Keeping in mind the harsh, salty conditions in marine exploration operations, the propellers are designed to be corrosion –proof, resistant to saltwater and UV light, which is quite a necessity. The T100 is built from polycarbonate injection molded plastic, and the core of the motor is sealed with epoxy. Plastic ball bearings take the place of steel elements. The platform accommodates multiple mounting options with plug-and-play compatibility. That means you can mound ROVs (Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles), surface vessels and many other robotic stuff.

Since the conception of the plan in 2013 to run the autonomous surfer between LA and Hawaii , the team arranged all components like microcontroller, GPs, sensors, and a SATCOM link except the most important part; a good, low cost thrusters . In the market an efficient and durable thrusters cost between a range of $500-$3000.

bluerobotics thrusters

That was an expensive deal for the team, so to deal with it; they designed their own low cost, low maintenance, and a high performance thruster. The team came up with T100 thruster, and under the name of BlueRobotics, they have already raised more than enough funds for the production through Kickstarter. Rather, it easily crossed $62,000 mark, which is higher than the pledged goal for $35,000.

via: Hack A Day