Transatlantic Boat Appears to be Adrift

An unmanned, solar-powered boat built by a WPI student and his friends will apparently not complete its journey from Rhode Island to Spain.

Scout, which would have been the first fully-autonomous craft to sail across the Atlantic, is now fully adrift, its creators report.

A post by one of the crew members late last week on Scout’s website reported the bad news:

Scout appears to be adrift and moving fully with the seas at this point. It has had a couple of sunny days to recharge if those systems were working working. The best guess at this point is some sort of electical or software failure onboard with the Arduino processors. It is going to be very difficult to pinpoint the actual failure until we (hopefully) recover the boat. Anyone know the weather in the Azores mid-winter? Anyone know anyone with a boat in the Azores?

Read more about the boat and its creators

The team, including 21-year-old WPI senior Dylan Rodriguez, lost contact with Scout late last month. Eventually, they were able to get a backup transmitter to work, and report the boat’s location. For a while, the boat was moving eastward, towards its Spanish destination. But team members were wary — the currents and wind were also headed east.

On Oct. 7, the boat began heading south, according to tracking data. By Oct. 11, it was traveling west, back from whence it came.

After 51 days at sea, the boat has traveled more than 1,900 miles. On Monday morning, it was 2,242 miles from Spain.

Despite the setback, the trip has made history. No other autonomous craft has gone as far in the ocean. Rodriguez said that, as far as anyone could tell, the previous record was just 61 miles.

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