Belgian drone boat to cross the Atlantic in 2019
Four Belgian engineers have built a boat, which will attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean entirely autonomously in May 2019. If it is successful, it will be a world first.
The bright yellow boat has been named Mahi. This refers to the mahi-mahi, a fast and agile tropical fish, also known as the dorado or dolphin fish. The Mahi is 4 metres long and 1.2 metres wide and weighs 200 kilograms. The surface is covered with solar panels, which are required to power two lithium batteries, which in turn drive the electric motor. The boat also contains two cameras, a GPS, a computer and an antennae.
The Mahi will set off from the French port of Les Sables-d'Olonne in May 2019. It will then travel via the Azores and Canary Islands to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean Sea. By following this route of about 7,000 kilometres, the Mahi will move with the current and remain close to the equator, where there is plenty of sun to charge the batteries. The journey should take between 80 and 100 days.
The project is part of a collaboration agreement signed by the Flemish Government, universities and port companies. The FLOAT (Flanders on the Automated shipping Track) platform supports the development of autonomous vehicles in Flanders. Drone boats like the Mahi can be used in the future to collect atmospheric and oceanographic data, map out coastal regions, transport goods and inspect parts of the sea that are less accessible.