Quantcast

Solar Boat to Make Solo Trip From California to Hawaii

Business

The Seacharger, a solar-powered boat built by "a couple of hobbyists" in a garage, will set sail for a solo, 2,000-mile ocean journey from California to Hawaii on Memorial Day.

The project was conceived by Silicon Valley-based Damon McMillan, who has a background in aeronautics and astronautics and currently works in the unmanned vehicle industry.

McMillan—with help from his team of friends, who happen to be computer experts and mechanical and electrical engineers—started building the Seacharger back in December 2013 and tracked its construction in a detailed blog.

According to Seeker, if the Seacharger is able to make the epic crossing, it will become the first unmanned boat to cross an ocean using only solar power.

"We were inspired by a competition they have every year where they send a robotic sailboat across the Atlantic,

and so far that's never been successfully accomplished," McMillan says in the video.

A previous vessel named Scout attempted the trip in 2013 but was lost at sea due to unfavorable weather conditions.

The land-based captain told PC World it took a lot of trial and error to construct the boat, adding that it seemed like an impossible task at times.

“If I had started believing that I had to get to the end tomorrow, I never would have continued. So it’s always just one step at a time,” McMillan said.

The machine is pretty impressive for something built by a team of "hobbyists" who all seem to have full-time jobs. The 50-pound craft is 91 inches long and 22 inches wide with a hull made of foam covered in fiberglass. A brushless electric motor, the kind you might see on a remote-controlled hobby plane, will propel the boat at a cruising speed of about 3 knots.

Two Renogy photovoltaic panels rated at 100-watts and a 50 cell LiFePo4 battery bank should give the boat enough power for three days' travel in the dark or unlimited travel in the sun.

In order to navigate the waters from hundreds of miles away, the team installed an Arduino-based autopilot, a GPS and satellite modem on board the boat in a watertight compartment.

The developers said that their boat merely uses "a few pieces of ordinary technology to accomplish an extraordinary feat."

In a blog post last month, McMillan wrote that the technology actually works after Seacharger autonomously made two laps around Shoreline Lake in Mountain View, California.

"Sure, it looked a bit like a drunken sailor, but it DID work," the post stated. "Just gotta tune some gains."

You can track the progress of the boat after its May 30 launch here.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Rooftop Solar Provides Net Benefits to All Nevadans

Meet the Carbon-Neutral Sports Car Made From Hemp

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Grants $650k to Accelerate Climate Change Solutions

Ultimate Family Bike Raises More Than $1 Million in 1 Day of Kickstarter Campaign

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of icebergs on Arctic Ocean in Greenland. Explora_2005 / iStock / Getty Images

The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Sled dog teams pull researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute through meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet in early June, 2019. Danish Meteorological Institute / Steffen M. Olsen

By Jon Queally

In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.

Read More Show Less
CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

Read More Show Less
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

Read More Show Less
A man carries a poster in New York City during the second annual nationwide March For Science on April 14, 2018. Kena Betancur / Getty Images

By Will J. Grant

In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.

People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.

Read More Show Less

YinYang / E+ / Getty Images

In a blow to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court ruled Monday to uphold a Virginia ban on mining uranium, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less