MAKE just posted a story about a group of college students who are smashing records for autonomous ocean crossings.
Back in 2010, a group of college kids started working on an unmanned robotic motor boat that could cross the Atlantic from Rhode Island to Spain. Why? Because a robotic boat that motors around a pond or lake is cool, but one that can cross the ocean is an inspiration to everyone.
The crew consists of Dylan Rodriguez (engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Dan Flanigan (civil engineering, Bucknell University), Max Kramers (mechanical engineering, University of Rhode Island), Ken Muller (mechanical engineering, Worcester Polytechnic), Brendan Prior (liberal studies, Endicott College), Mike Flanigan (aerospace engineering, Notre Dame), and David Pimental (computer science, Northeastern).
They started construction on the final version of their boat, called Scout, in April 2012. It launched on Aug. 24 and the crew has already broken the record for distance traveled by an autonomous transatlantic water craft. Scout had traveled about 100 miles out to sea by yesterday evening. They beat a previous record of about 60 miles set by a team from Aberystwyth University in the 2010 Microtransat Challenge.
All in, they made Scout for about $6,000.
Eric and I just spent the past few days at Scripps in San Diego, checking out the tools and devices, and talking to scientists. The potential of these low-cost, maker systems for their research is really significant. Exciting!