Students develop first Slovenian autonomous sailboat

date: 04.07.2018

category: Sporočila za javnost

 

Ljubljana, 28 June 2018 - Students of five faculties of the University of Ljubljana and the youth technology-research centre Zavod 404 (Institute 404) held a press conference in which they presented the results they achieved so far in the development of an unmanned sailboat that will cross the Atlantic ocean.  The sailboat is expected to reach its destination in three months. Twenty universities from different parts of the world have already attempted to develop an autonomous sailboat as part of the international competition Microtransat Challenge, however, the most successful only made it halfway through the journey. 

For almost two years the students of the University of Ljubljana have been developing an autonomous boat - a robotic sailboat, which will begin its journey across the Atlantic ocean next year. The team will compete in the international open competition "Microtransat Challenge", a transatlantic race for autonomous boats. The sailboat, which is powered exclusively by wind power, is made of glass and carbon fibres, which ensure firmness and stability.

About 100 students from five faculties of the University of Ljubljana; the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, the faculty of Maritime Studies and Transport, the Faculty of Computer and Information Science and the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering cooperate in the project which is being carried out by the University of Ljubljana and the institute Zavod 404.

The students, who formed eight different technical teams, have been planning the sailboat's journey, looking for solutions for risks that could occur during the journey and facing a number of construction and technical challenges since the beginning of the project in 2016. They have been cooperating with national and international experts and receiving a lot of support also from the professors of the University of Ljubljana. Special thanks go to Gaber Bergant from the company Ocean Tec who constructed the sailboat, and to Andrej Justin who designed it.

During the project the students came up with many different innovative solutions. One of them was also the development of a steering system, when they were choosing between an electric and a hydraulic one. Each solution has its advantages and its disadvantages. Unlike in other projects, where in the end they would have to choose one option, they were lucky, as one of the project's objectives is also to promote innovation, and with the strong support of the Faculty of Maritime Studies and Transport they were able to start developing another sailboat. This way they will have the opportunity to test both systems on vessels.

The boat is only 2,4 m long and is made of glass fibre, whereas the strong sails are made of carbon fibres. The movement of the sails and the steering are operated with a microcomputer. The sailboat will feature also a navigation module which will send data about the position and the state of the sailboat systems in real time through the telemetry unit BlueTraker.

When asked why are the students still sticking to the project, Miha Štampek, a student of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Ljubljana answered: "Technical knowledge does not represent an obstacle for us, even less so thanks to the strong support of the University, our partners and sponsors. Regardless of the numerous obstacles we overcame, particularly in the last year, the students still want to complete the project as soon as possible."

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