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­bc's Robotic Sailboat Attempts to Cross Atlantic Alone

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The team of University of British Columbia students testing the capabilities of its sailbot.

A team of University of British Columbia students will try navigate a robotic sailboat across the Atlantic ocean.

Credit: Shaw Media

University of British Columbia (UBC) engineering and computer science students will launch a robotic sailboat off the coast of Newfoundland this summer, hoping it will be the first sailbot to complete a transatlantic race that started in 2010.

UBC has had success at the International Robotic Sailing Regatta, winning the 8-to 12-kilometer race three straight years. However, no sailbots have ever finished the transatlantic race. Sailbots usually get lost at sea, a few have run into islands, and some have been picked up by other boats, notes Josh Andrews, head of the software group that is part of the 66-person UBC sailbot team.

Sailbots must autonomously navigate more than 2,500 kilometers across the Atlantic Ocean and do so totally under wind power provided by their Kevlar-reinforced sails. UBC's 5.5-meter sailbot is equipped with the latest marine technology, from satellite navigation to thermal imaging. A website will enable viewers from around the world to follow its trek to Dingle, an island off the coast of Ireland.

From Saskatoon StarPhoenix (Canada)
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