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We're building a fleet of autonomous sailing robots to study the oceans. Each boat can sail itself anywhere & send data back to shore.
We're building a fleet of autonomous sailing robots to study the oceans. Each boat can sail itself anywhere & send data back to shore.
1,152 backers pledged $83,424 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$83,424

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WHAT IS THIS ANYWAY?

We're asking for your help to produce and test the ROBOTBOAT MARK VI.  Each robotboat is fully autonomous, needs no fuel, and will bring to bear myriad sensors at remote points on the surface of oceans, lakes, and rivers.  Think of it as a satellite for the seas.

WHY?

We need lots of low-cost self-propelled robots to study the health of the world's water.  Never send a person to do a buoy's job!  The real value of this technology lies at the fleet level, but given the extremely high performance required of each boat, purchasing even a few of them is simply beyond our means.  Building one boat represents a huge step towards cheap data.  Building more than one boat will allow us to test swarming algorithms, implement complex communication schemes, and take greater risks (e.g. undertake longer, more challenging missions).

Bringing this opportunity to the kickstarter community will allow us to develop this technology MUCH FASTER than we could if we have to fund it ourselves;  the more resources we can raise here, the faster we can deliver.

WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Perhaps Lilly Tomlin said it best: "I said 'Somebody should do something about that.'  Then I realized I am somebody."

No matter where you stand on issues like climate change, marine conservation, offshore energy production etc., we hope you'll agree that everyone is better served by policies and behavior based on empirical scientific evidence.  We should all care about how we manage our water resources.

We think Robotboat is the best way yet to generate information about the world's oceans.

  • More data = better ocean management
  • Fully automatic = cheap to acquire data
  • Fast = station-keep in high seas; get to points of interest quickly
  • Durable = collect longitudinal data; self-righting
  • Each boat = millions upon millions of datapoints

WHO ARE YOU?

Walt, Rob, TJ, and Eamon... Hi.

We're a professional engineering team.  Between us we hold 8 patents and have over fifty years of engineering experience.

Our principals (Walt & Rob respectively) founded these companies: 

Planetary Systems Corp. and Tiger Innovations

TJ and Eamon have worked for Walt making satellite subsystems for the last few years (among other pursuits).  We've designed and executed dozens of successful missions.  We've produced space flight hardware, ground station equipment, and remote sensing systems for the most demanding customers in the world,  Collectively, our expertise is in developing robust mechatronics.

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PULL THIS OFF?

We've built & tested 5 autonomous sailing robots over the last several years.

Our boats have completed hundreds of hours of fully autonomous navigation and traversed hundreds of kilometers on the water.

We've proved a robust sailing algorithm.  In the GPS trace below you can see the boat complete upwind tacking maneuvers without human control.

We've completed the Robotboat Mark VI design.  We're going to build it like a surfboard; it will be incredibly strong and be capable of being rolled in waves indefinitely.

We won't quit.

Neither will the boats.  The Robotboat Mark VI features a patent pending self-righting mechanism, the first and only such system in existence.  It can prosecute targets day or night, rain or shine, wind or doldrums, thanks to its advanced wing sail and assistive electric propulsion system.

And... we'll need your help.  R&D of this nature is not cheap.

  • Mechanical and electrical components = $40k
  • Tooling (molds & dies) = $30k
  • Average cost per test = $1k
  • Expected test quantity = 10x
  • TOTAL = $80,000

We're trying to build as many of these boats as possible

As soon as we receive this kickstart, we will execute the following schedule:

As your sponsorship allows us, we will undertake more ambitious missions in the next few months:

World Record

Trans-Atlantic Crossing

Measure oil leaks

Measure the Pacific Garbage Patch

Measure Boundary Currents (e.g. the Gulf Stream)

Measure Marine Life (video & acoustic)

Measure Icebergs


Measure Coral Reefs

REWARD DETAILS

Sail Graphics Placement:

The earlier you pledge, the higher your logo ; )

Postcard: (NEW REWARD ALERT)

The details are yet to be finalized, but hopefully the picture above gives you an idea as to what we have in mind.

Keychain:

T-shirt:

Black ink on grey shirts emblazoned with ridiculously large prints of a wireframe model of the Robotboat Mk VI (adult unisex sizes available XS - XXL).  These will be hand-screened in VA.

Pro Sailing Jacket:

Originally these were just for the four of us, but we decided to make them available to our most generous backers.  They will be available in the full range of women's and men's sizes and embroidered with a picture of the Robotboat Mark VI.  Though the picture above is just nominal, the jackets will be of extremely high quality. Trust us, we've frozen our tootsies off while testing Robotboats enough to know that good gear is essential when people venture out on the water. 

3D Printed Model:

Think bathtub/desktop size...

Special thanks to our international backers!  We'll have to ask you to help mitigate the extra shipping costs required to deliver your rewards.  For addresses outside the U.S.A. please add $8 for keychain / $15 for tshirt / $20 for 3D model / $35 for jacket to the appropriate rewards levels at right.

Thanks for checking out the Robotboat!!!

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    THANKS, AND HERE'S SOME TRUTH

    We’re after data, and we hope you’ll share our conviction that the world needs it. To this end, we will publish data accrued throughout the lifetime of any robotboats built with the support of the kickstarter community free for the world on our website.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $8 or more About $8

    POSTCARD FROM THE EDGE. Backers at this level and all higher levels will be invited to submit a short phrase. We will choose our top five favorite phrases and put them up for a vote. We will then have Robotboat sail the phrase (see bottom of main section) and produce a postcard from the GPS trace. We will then mail the postcard to you so you can brag to your friends about how cool Robotboats are.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    FLOATY KEYCHAIN

    Sailing enthusiast? Water lover? Key aficionado? Perhaps this sponsorship level is right for you… tell the world you realize that which gets measured gets managed. Help us measure the oceans more efficiently than ever.

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    209 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    LOOKRIGHT a fine t-shirt for your torso. Limited edition hand screened robotboat shirt. Unprecedented sartorial splendor can be yours!

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    NAMETAG

    It may be a long lonely journey, but robotboat will carry a piece of you with it wherever it goes. We’ll gladly engrave your name/text (<20 char) on the hull as a token of our appreciation for your generosity.

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    Limited 86 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    BOAT IN 4D Backers at this level will receive a small 3D printed model of the Robotboat Mk VI, our deep gratitude, and the NAMETAG reward as detailed above. This is the same technology we've used throughout development. Every time you lay eyes upon it, may it verily remind you that somewhere out on the open sea a robotboat is sailing under your patronage on the behalf of science.

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    Limited 12 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    BIG DEAL

    We hope that plenty of people will see these Robotboats in action. Why shouldn't they see your sponsorship as well? Support at this level includes placement of a 6 inch by 6 inch (150 mm x 150 mm) logo, message, or image on the sail. Plus a 3D printed model of the boat as detailed above.

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    Limited 13 backers
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  8. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    HUGE DEAL
    Sponsors at this level will get ultimate placement of a 12 in x 12 in (300 mm x 300 mm) graphic of their design. Plus a 3D printed model of the boat. Plus a top flight sailing jacket (see below left). Plus an invitation to the maiden voyage.

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    Reward no longer available 2 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    TIPPY TOP
    Name the boat (keep it social, please). Christen it. Get decked out in all of the robotboat apparel mentioned above. A trio of 3D printed models? Yeah you got those. You will be invited as the guest of honor at the maiden voyage. TJ will cook you dinner.

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Funding period

- (30 days)