Unmanned Trimaran Smart Enough to Trim Its own Sails
NOVEMBER 22, 2008
Stephen J. Mraz
Edited by Stephen J. Mraz
The HWT X-1, an unmanned sailingvessel prototype designed and built byHarbor Wing Technologies, Seattle (harborwingtech.com), could someday patrol ocean waters to protect marine areas, monitor the ocean and atmosphere, and augment U.S. military forces. The 30-ft prototype is currently being tested in the waters of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, a 140,000-sqmile area in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
The brains of the boat is the SeaKeeper 1000 control system from SeaKeeper, a French company specializing in marine technology. It lets operators control the boat by VHF radio, satellite, or line-of-sight UHF communication. It also controls the sails and small electrically driven propellers, reducing power to the propellers when the wing-sail takes over most of the load. When speeds exceed 4 knots, the motors switch off and propellers fold away. Operators need only set patrol parameters or a destination and the SeaKeeper handles navigation. It can maintain a course to within 1 m in closed or harbored waters and to within 2 m in the open ocean.
A portable workstation-based command console uses a graphicuser interface to show operators navigational and situational information.
The production craft will measure 50 ft long, have a 40-ft beam, and a 60-ft mast. Draft is 10 ft with the hydrofoils lowered. Its airfoil will have 700 ft.2 of surface area. It will carry up to 1,500 lb of payload in 600 ft3 of storage space. Top speed is at least 25 knots and range is 500 miles. It will be able to spend three months at sea..
To see the trimaran in action visit EngineeringTV at tinyurl.com 5r8jq8
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© 2012 Penton Me
On February 17th, 2009 Dave R (not verified) says:The Regulations relating to Prevention of Collisions at Sea require all vessels to keep a lookout at all times.
Even with radar, sonar, real time video camera etc, I do not see how an unmanned vessel travelling at up to 25 knots could fully comply with this requirement.
As an ocean-crossing yachtsman, (Yes, with enough crew to ensure that there is someone awake in the cockpit at all times) the thought of one of these vessels in my part of the ocean is a bit worrying....