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Old 02-10-2014, 18:31   #31
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

The picture Delancey showed of the big fish he almost ran over is of a giant sunfish. I've been fortunate enough to have seen two in forty years of sailing on the Maine Coast and along the Maritime Coast.
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Old 02-10-2014, 18:55   #32
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

Just found another reason to carry guns on board. Those autonomous boats will make great traget practice and by shooting them you are eliminating a navigation hazard. Load. Make ready. And fire!!!!!
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:28   #33
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

You are right, in hindsight we probably had as much to fear of it as it to have fear of us. I did not realize they were so heavy.

We were broad reaching in a moderate sea in the early afternoon south of Grand Banks. My heart jumped at first when I spotted a submerged object in the water about three or four waves ahead of the boat. It was grey and maybe a little smaller than sheet of plywood.

At first I thought it was a big dirty sheet of plastic floating at the surface but as we passed it to leeward I recognized it as a sunfish which I had only seen pictures of before.

Pretty neat. Seems pretty docile. Also seemed like a slow mover, like not something I would expect to get out of your way. In that area we also saw lots of sargassum, turtles, and Portuguese-man-o-war.
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:46   #34
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

Its only a matter of a few years and autonomous freighters will be plying the oceans. Be they drone-like or completely autonomous, they will have no crew. That allows them to go slower, saving fuel and money.


Sent from an undisclosed location on the high seas or from the lounge chair by the pool, you decide.
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Old 04-10-2014, 12:34   #35
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

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Originally Posted by dohenyboy View Post
Its only a matter of a few years and autonomous freighters will be plying the oceans. Be they drone-like or completely autonomous, they will have no crew. That allows them to go slower, saving fuel and money.


Sent from an undisclosed location on the high seas or from the lounge chair by the pool, you decide.
And we will all have to spring for a transponder.
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Old 04-10-2014, 15:29   #36
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

Wow, lots of feedback guys, thanks a lot! Apologies for being out of the loop for the past few days, I just realized that Cruising World only sends you one email about thread updates until the next time you check the forum. I thought the thread was dead

I hadn't realized how much opposition there would be to the idea of an autonomous boat. I'm glad some of you are taking the opportunity to share with me your concerns. I will be sure to share those with my team, and we'll do our very best to engineer our boat to both avoid others and be avoidable. Radar reflectors, bright paint, and running lights are all things we'll take into consideration. Remember, we don't want to crash into you any more than you want to crash into us

As some have rightly pointed out, by "autonomous" we mean that no human will be at the controls - the boat will be equipped only with the sensors and the logic we give it, as well as weather data and nautical charts. Hence we want to determine the best strategies for detecting and avoiding others.

We will have a public website tracking the progress of our boat - one of the rules of the competition (The Microtransat Challenge) is actually to have a GPS transponder for this very purpose.

I will respond to more individual points soon.

Thanks again!
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Old 04-10-2014, 15:35   #37
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

By the way, sorry about the provocative and possibly alarming title for this thread. It was meant to stir discussion, which it seems to have accomplished

Our intention is quite the opposite from sailing "blind" - we want our boat to be equipped in such a way that it will have as much information as possible to make the soundest possible navigational judgments. Hence why input from experienced mariners such as yourselves is so valuable.
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Old 05-10-2014, 04:18   #38
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

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Originally Posted by dohenyboy View Post
Its only a matter of a few years and autonomous freighters will be plying the oceans. Be they drone-like or completely autonomous, they will have no crew. That allows them to go slower, saving fuel and money.
Yepp...Schiff ohne Besatzung: Hamburger Firma entwickelt Modell - SPIEGEL ONLINE
..
Researchers of the DNV GL technology company have developed a ship for short distances, without crew and electric drives. Currently, a model of the ship on a scale of 1:20 in Norway will tested, DNV GL in Hamburg said.
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Old 05-10-2014, 05:37   #39
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

England has a fleet of these going out.http://m.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29464273


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Old 05-10-2014, 07:39   #40
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

A lot of thought has been put into making equipment on a sailboat survive the punishing conditions that saltwater and motion created at sea. But stuff still breaks. Especially of the high-tech kind. And on your vessel there is no one to fix it. That will be your hardest challenge I would think. Chances are that the majority of vessels in this competition will end up floating around out of control. If you want to be responsible include a "sink-switch" that will sink the boat if that happens.


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Old 15-10-2014, 11:10   #41
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

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Originally Posted by ecamphunk View Post
By the way, sorry about the provocative and possibly alarming title for this thread. It was meant to stir discussion, which it seems to have accomplished

Our intention is quite the opposite from sailing "blind" - we want our boat to be equipped in such a way that it will have as much information as possible to make the soundest possible navigational judgments. Hence why input from experienced mariners such as yourselves is so valuable.
I suspect that most of the outrage is from folks who haven't been more than a few hundred miles off shore. The ocean is a BIG place with lots of water between things to run into. Your autonomous device is less than a drop in the bucket in terms of added collision risk for mariners.

As for things your vessel might run into - I wouldn't want to trust my life to sailing across the Atlantic without a lookout, but I think the chances of your little ship getting run down are pretty slim.
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Old 15-10-2014, 11:29   #42
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

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Originally Posted by Grateful View Post
I suspect that most of the outrage is from folks who haven't been more than a few hundred miles off shore. The ocean is a BIG place with lots of water between things to run into. Your autonomous device is less than a drop in the bucket in terms of added collision risk for mariners.

As for things your vessel might run into - I wouldn't want to trust my life to sailing across the Atlantic without a lookout, but I think the chances of your little ship getting run down are pretty slim.
Tell that to the basking whale I almost ran down (and would have if I hadn't been maintaining a good watch) on the way to Bermuda.
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Old 15-10-2014, 11:38   #43
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

For years the major hurdle to overcome with autonomous aircraft, drones, RPV's or whatever name you want to call them is their lack of being to "see and avoid" other aircraft.
This has still not been overcome even with I'm sure hundreds of millions of dollars being spent, how do you plan on being able to see and avoid, specifically?
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Old 15-10-2014, 12:57   #44
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

Just how big is this craft going to be?
Depending on how big and how stoutly built it is the requirements will change.
The size, weight and strength of the design would definitely have an impact on some of the concerns voiced previously.
If it is to have redundant systems as backup I would think it would start to get up there in size and start to create more of a hazard to other smaller (IE cruising) vessels, somehow I don't think a smaller craft built of composite materials would present much of a hazard to commercial vessels. They've been known to run right over cruising sized vessels without even noticing......
Most of the safety items mentioned like running lights, radar reflectors, AIS, etc, etc are good ideas but do have power requirements which in turn require an ever larger vessel to carry them and the solar panels needed to power them and recharge battery banks. I certainly wouldn't want turn one loose without at least minimal visual/ electronic identification capability, it wouldn't be responsible; even though the possibility of a smaller cruising vessel colliding with it in the vast, open seas is remote it's still is a possibility.
I'm all for your project but think that there's much more to consider than just the ability to make it across an ocean, more like making it across safely without becoming a hazard to others.
I'm sure with some forethought it is completely possible, but I do like the idea of an automatic sinking option should all the propulsion and navigation systems fail. If you look at some other threads on this site you'll see a number of cases of boats abandoned by their crews for various reasons floating around for months before beaching themselves fully intact; during which time they were a hazard to navigation. Otherwise you just have to decide what time of year your looking to let it loose and study the average weather conditions to see what your little vessel will be in for.
Good luck, I'd like to see how your project goes.
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Old 15-10-2014, 13:42   #45
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Re: Sailing "blind" across the North Atlantic

Military drones are controlled by personnel thousands of miles away. They are not autonomous. Isn't this controlled version the reasonable intermediate step?
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