Scientists at the University of Aberystwyth have developed a 3-meter boat with on-board sensors and a GPS. The mini-vessel should sail a computer-set course to the Caribbean, which should take at least three months.
But the team behind the challenge does not expect “Pinta” to reach her final destination. “I don't think “Pinta” will succeed because there are some horrible weather conditions out there. There are 35 to 40 knot winds and the remnants of a hurricane”, said Dr. Mark Neal from the University of Aberystwyth.
The boat is making the crossing as part of the Microtransat Challenge, which has previously run robotic yacht events on a French lake and in the Irish Sea. The aim is to build robots that can survive for a long time in hostile environments.
The challenge's first Atlantic crossing was planned for last year, but all the participants withdrew their entry. “We're the only team taking part this year. A team from Brest pulled out at the last minute partly because of the weather conditions”, explained Dr. Neal and added: “Pinta will probably capsize. It is waterproof, but it won't survive the continual flipping over. At this point it could well turn out to be the world's first robotic sailing boat shipwreck.”
To follow Pinta's progress visit www.microtransat.org/tracking.