Students design no-crew yacht

A group of students are designing a sailing boat which will sail across the Atlantic by herself. The four metre yacht, weighing a maximum of 500 kilograms, is being designed by eight Swiss mechanical engineering students.

If successful, Castor, the unmanned craft will sail from Ireland to the Caribbean, covering a total of 7,000 kilometres in three to four months.

The deck will be fitted with solar panels to supply electricity for the on-board electronics, satellite communications and to control the rudder and sail. The electricity supply is backed up by fuel cells. These will be brought into operation when the solar panels are not supplying any current and the battery is exhausted.

The students calculate that 50 kilos of methanol should be enough for the three to four month crossing. Ideally, the solar panels will charge a lithium-manganese battery to such an extent that it can deliver enough energy at night to keep the boat on course.

Sensors will record wind speed, heading and position. The data will be transferred to a central computer in the hull, which will process it and also control the position of the rudder and sail.

Science Daily