About this project
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.
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:
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:
Measure oil leaks
Measure the Pacific Garbage Patch
Measure Boundary Currents (e.g. the Gulf Stream)
Measure Marine Life (video & acoustic)
Measure Coral Reefs
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.
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!!!
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