A team of Swiss mechanical engineering students is building a four-meter automated sailboat, which they hope to sail from Ireland to the Caribbean this summer.
Big challenges await the boat, named “Castor”. Storms, high seas, intense sunlight and corrosive seawater â€“ all of these must be taken into account by the students in their planning, design and implementation. The sailing boat will be a high-tech product.
The deck will be fitted with solar cells 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. To save weight, the students abandoned their original idea of using lead-acid accumulators.