A company formed by a group of recent college graduates is aiming to develop the first small, fully autonomous sailboat to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
The Microtransat Challenge states that boats must be under 2.4 meters/7.87ft in length and no communication can be sent to the boat during transit. No contestant has succeeded since the challenge launched 16 years ago, including the US Naval Academy.
A team of Imperial College London graduates founded a company called Oshen to develop their sailboat.
Their boat will set off in October 2022 from Portugal with the objective of landing in the Caribbean by January 2023. Unique Group is sponsoring their attempt, and they’ve also partnered with INMARSAT and CLS.
The aeronautical engineers in Oshen’s team have identified an approach to the Microtransat Challenge that takes a different angle. Rather than focusing purely on boat design, they’ve developed a path-planning algorithm that’s quite unique to anything else currently in the industry. The algorithm allows the boat to travel along an optimal path using advanced wind and current models — this is crucial for avoiding conditions that could threaten the boat’s journey.
Oshen’s boat, powered principally by wind and solar power, aims to show that world-first technology can be achieved sustainably. After their crossing, Oshen plans to use its methodology for ocean data collection. They aim for their boat to be able to deliver accurate information about the world’s oceans inexpensively, empowering people to combat climate change.