Sailing drones tested to clean up oil spills in swarms

2011-10-20

Sailing drones tested to clean up oil spills in swarms
Sail technology drove exploration of the seas and helped build worldwide empires for centuries, but began falling out of favor with the rise of steamships in the 1800s. Now an open-source project wants to once again harness the winds to deploy a fleet of robotic sailing vessels across the world's oceans within the next decade.

The idea came to Cesar Harada as he watched human attempts to skim off the massive oil spill after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. He envisioned a robotic ship capable of wriggling its flexible body like a worm through the oil slick, all while dragging a long tail of absorbent material to soak up the spilled oil.

Swarms of sailing drones could also clean up ocean garbage patches, monitor pollutants and keep an eye on endangered marine life. To make the dream a reality, Harada coordinates the Protei project that launched its sixth prototype — produced by the V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media during World Port Day in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on Sept. 2.

"Collecting oil is the most difficult of all," said Piem Wirtz, project manager of the V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam. "If we succeed in cleaning up oil using sailing power, an articulated hull, and drag a heavy absorbing load, we can do pretty much anything."

The early prototypes represent simple, remote-controlled watercraft meant to show how well a sailing drone could work. The flexible, sectioned body design allows it to tack back and forth more efficiently as it sails against the wind and sailing upwind would allow the robotic ship to tackle oil slicks moving downwind.

Most existing sea drones resemble submarines or torpedoes that travel underwater and avoid the turbulent forces at the ocean's surface. Creating a surface vessel forced the team led by Harada and Wirtz to test how a sailing drone could survive violent waves and winds by laying its sail flat on the water.

"Sailing drones are much more difficult to engineer, since they operate on the water surface," Wirtz told InnovationNewsDaily. "At the surface (where spilled oil floats), a drone has to face the waves, the wind, the currents, the water."

The Protei project has survived so far on private donations through crowd-sourced websites such as Kickstarter, even as building costs for each version of the sailing drone have grown from a few hundred dollars to $10,000. But the team has begun talking with several companies about joining the "Open Hardware" effort all of their designs and test information are published online.

Eventually, the team wants to make Protei drones more capable of operating without human help. That means moving from a remote-controlled version running on batteries to a swarm of drones that rely solely upon sun and wind power, make their own decisions, can cooperate in groups and can also work with humans.

Region:  USA and Canada
Contry:  USA
Category:  USV


Avion Unmanned Wins Multi-State Contract To Provide Unmanned Aircraft System Services For The Public Sector

2019-08-23
Avion Unmanned Wins Multi-State Contract To Provide Unmanned Aircraft System Services For The Public Sector
Huntsville, AL – Avion Unmanned, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) division of Avion Solutions, Inc., was recently awarded Contract E194-79435 by the Commonwealth of Virginia. This contract opens the door for Avion Unmanned to provide UAS services to state and local government agencies in all 50 states.

Amazon reveals latest version of its Prime Air delivery drone

2019-06-06
Amazon reveals latest version of its Prime Air delivery drone
Amazon says it is just months away from launching its drone delivery service (make of that what you will), and it has marked the occasion by revealing a brand new aircraft to do the job. The company's latest robotic flying courier is a little different to those it has shown off before, and features upgraded navigation software claimed to better help it find its way.

New Gargantuan Internet-Beaming Drone Aims to Succeed Where All Others Have Failed

2019-03-07
New Gargantuan Internet-Beaming Drone Aims to Succeed Where All Others Have Failed
AeroEnvironment's newest UAV is rumored to look at lot like the Helios Prototype, which crashed in 2003.

Microsoft Tests Self-Flying Gliders in Rural Nevada

2017-08-22
Microsoft Tests Self-Flying Gliders in Rural Nevada
Microsoft is already thinking about self-flying airplanes. The tech giant tested such technology in Hawthorne, 130 miles south of Reno, last week with the help of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems.

RADA Gets $8M US Military Counter-UAS Contract

2017-08-22
RADA Gets $8M US Military Counter-UAS Contract
RADA Electronic Industries Ltd. has announced it had received a strategic first order for dozens of Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radars (MHR) from the US Military. Totalling over $8 million, this order will be delivered during 2017.

US Navy Wants Drones and AI to Repair Airfields Fast

2017-08-14
US Navy Wants Drones and AI to Repair Airfields Fast
The U.S. Navy is looking for a drone that can fly over a damaged airfield and come up with a plan to get planes back in the air quickly, the head of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command said Tuesday.

Raytheon Further Develops Multi-Mission Coyote UAS

2017-06-21
Raytheon Further Develops Multi-Mission Coyote UAS
Raytheon is developing a “Block 2” update of the Coyote tube-launched unmanned aircraft system (UAS) it acquired more than two years ago. The aim is to produce a low-cost, multi-mission-capable air vehicle that users will ultimately dispose of once it completes a mission.

Ship Agency to use Drones for Ship Deliveries

2017-05-26
Ship Agency to use Drones for Ship Deliveries
Wilhelmsen Ships Service (WSS) is launching a pilot program to study the use of unmanned aircraft systems for delivering supplies to ocean vessels.

US Air Force Research Lab to Extend Aircraft ISR Range

2017-05-23
US Air Force Research Lab to Extend Aircraft ISR Range
The US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is developing a tube-launched unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that can be deployed from an AC-130 gunship, or similar aircraft, and provide video that will rival that provided by its own sensors.

Firefighting Drone Debuts in Summer in USA

2017-05-15
Firefighting Drone Debuts in Summer in USA
Spain-based start-up DRONE HOPPER has designed a heavy-duty firefighting drone that the company says offers “safety, flexibility and efficiency over traditional fire suppression technology.”


Back to the list