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Southampton Sailing Robot

A project by: Southampton Sailing Robot Team

Successful

WE RAISED £1,602

from 18 donors

This project received pledges on Thu 30 Jun 2016

The University of Southampton's Student Support Fund provides matched funding opportunities for academic priorities focused on advancing research, enterprise and innovation.

4 years, 2 months ago

First autonomous sailing

This Saturday was a very exciting day for us: We finally put all our electronics on a boat and let it go!

Our boat equipped with sensors; and finally on the water. By the way, you can get the photo at the bottom as a postcard. 

Overall we were very happy with our results:

  • Power supply CHECK
  • ROS CHECK
  • Compass (after finding and fixing a bug…) CHECK
  • Wind Sensor CHECK
  • Sail and Rudder actuation CHECK
  • Sailing Control NEEDS MORE WORK

We ran into two problems though: Continuous tacking and … no wind … again!

The mirror like water surface makes for wonderful photos, but we would prefer sailing our robot.

In our sailing state machine we have to tune our conditions for going into tacking mode a bit finer, and probably also introduce different values for the ‘almost no wind’ condition we keep having. One thing we definitely learn in this progress: Some things you just have to be patient with and accept. No wind is no wind, but luckily we have our Landyacht MacGyver for testing in those conditions.

 

 

After packing up at sunset, we went on to the pub. After a day at the lake, the food and drinks tasted even better than usual and we discussed our next plans: Improving our wind sensor analysis, our GPS accuracy and a thorough look at the tacking decision making process.

Help us meet our funding goals to make sure we and our boat can be in Portugal for WRSC2016!

Please have a look at our rewards, share our fundraiser and/or contribute to our campaign.

Funding that we don’t need this year will be used to build an even better boat next year.  All our work from this year is available, not only for next year’s team: Our boat and advice is available to any student working on a related project, e.g. for their individual project (IP), and our firmware is publicly available on github to everyone.

Many thanks to everyone who already pledged support: Alistair Lynn, Matt Brown, Soon Sun Gan, Simone Provenzano, Kerrine Lee, Alessandro Romano, Lee Kwong Yong, andybs and Alex Ziang -
May you always find fair winds and following seas!

4 years, 3 months ago

Remote controlled sailing practice

As part of the rules, we have to be able to remote control our boat for emergency collision avoidance. So, in addition to writing the software to sail the boat, we also need to be able ourselves to control the boat! Whilst our work on the hull continues, Dr Alex Phillips loaned us two RC Laser boats to practice remote controlled sailing with.

By the way, you can get some remote controlled sailing lessons with us: Just choose any reward from £150!

We finally got a little bit of wind this evening, so we took them sailing in the Southampton common. The boats attracted quite an excited crowd, and we hope that some of them found their way here to our blog.

Our boat needed rescuing from water plants several times, so a few days later we went to the Itchen river. There we had less problems with plants - instead we had to fight strong currents and got our bulb stuck in the mud. Chest waders are a great invention!


Why did we decide to build our own hull and not just use the RC Laser boat we hear you ask?

It was indeed a consideration, since it is a finished boat, coming with motors already fit to the hull, and all wiring going into a small compartment. However these two reasons lead us to go for building our own boat:

  • Length: The RC laser is 1.05 m long, just a bit too long for the usual micro sailboat class

  • Space: On the RC laser there is only a small compartment, which is enough for batteries and the receiver, however it is a very tight fit if we also want to add electronics and more batteries

4 years, 3 months ago

All the blinking lights

We were so focused on our tests last Wednesday, that we completely forgot about time and ended up testing until almost 11 pm. We took our Landyacht MacGyver out on Boldrewood campus, filled with not one but two Raspberry Pi. We were working in two groups, testing the heading control and the GPS accuracy.

Whilst our Landyacht may look a bit unconventional for a sailing boat, it had many advantages: We can easily carry it around and push it over the lawn whilst varying its heading and position. We can stand right next to it, whilst monitoring it and manually manipulating its sensors. This makes debugging a lot easier, for example it allowed us to find a sign error in the compass node which at first was only visible to us as an unreasonable tacking demand. Without having to go to a lake or relying on the wind, we can also test at any time. As a result we got to enjoy all the blinking LEDs on our electronic boards until late into the night...



Help us meet our funding goals to make sure we and our boat can be in Portugal for WRSC2016!

Please have a look at our rewards, share our fundraiser and/or contribute to our campaig.

Funding that we don’t need this year will be used to build an even better boat next year.  All our work from this year is available, not only for next year’s team: Our boat and advice is available to any student working on a related project, e.g. for their individual project (IP), and our firmware is publicly available on github to everyone.

Many thanks to everyone who already pledged support: Alistair Lynn, Matt Brown, Soon Sun Gan, Simone Provenzano, Kerrine Lee, Alessandro Romano, Lee Kwong Yong, andybs and Alex Ziang

Vielen Dank! Merci beaucoup! 谢谢 !


4 years, 3 months ago

QUIZ: What is wrong in this picture?

Isn't the undisturbed water of this lake in Southampton common a beautiful, calming view?

Well, a calm lake is not for us when we want to sail a boat! With little wind predicted for today, we hoped to find at least a tiny breeze, just enough to push a 1m boat around, but were unlucky.

On the positive side: We visited all our test locations, and the pictures below will show you what they look like in no-wind conditions. And our team members are so committed to the sailing robot, we decided on the spot, we will try again tomorrow! Slightly better wind conditions are promised around 5pm...

The Itchen river, when there is no wind.

The Solent, when there is no wind.