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Clean Power roboat

Published on December 6th, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz


The "Roboat": Solar and Linux-Powered Sailboat


Becoming an accomplished sailor isn’t easy, but a group of European sailing enthusiasts have just made the sport a little more accessible for beginners. The ASV Roboat is a solar-powered, Linux-brained sailboat that can sail anywhere and navigate pre-set race courses with no human intervention.

The Roboat is actually an adapted 3.75m Laerling beginner’s sailing vessel that is tricked out with a Linux operating system and a control software suite that uses Java and C++.

The boat also features sensors that track position and speed over ground, speed through water, ultrasonic wind speed, and more. When a destination is set, the Roboat’s chain-driven motors adjust the mainsail, jib, rudder, and boom.

In case its solar panels fail, the Roboat also comes with a methanol fuel cell for backup.

And while there are other robotic sailboats floating around the ocean, the Roboat may be the best— earlier this year, the boat won the first World Robotic Sailing Championship.

Photo Credit: Roboat

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.

  • Angelitaz

    It really looks great… But two 200 HP motors is overkill if one is relying on the solar panels (as shown). I admit I am not an expert in solar panels but I would imagine that two 200HP electric engines would drink up the batteries in no time. They would probably archive greater functionality and greater distances per charge if they scaled the engines down.

    But great idea… And again I am not nor do I claim any knowledge in these areas except for what seems logical based on the technologies being used

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