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Southampton Sailing Robot

This project aims to build a 1m autonomous sailing boat to compete in the World Robotic Sailing Championship (WRSC)

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The goal of this project is to build a sailing robot that can compete in the WRSC (World Robotic Sailing Championship), a competition with various challenges form fleet race between boats to obstacle avoidance.

One can follow our advancement on our blog: https://sailrobot.wordpress.com . Our code is also fully available on github (MIT license) for everyone to use and contribute.


  • 1 × Raspberry pi 2 B
  • 2 × IMU: AltIMU-10 https://www.pololu.com/product/2469
  • 1 × 4-Channel RC Servo Multiplexer https://www.pololu.com/product/2806
  • 1 × Servo Futaba S3003 for the rudder control
  • 1 × Servo HITEC HS-785HB for the sail control
  • 1 × GPS (with an external antenna)
  • 1 × 2.4GHz 3 channels remote control, and its receiver (to be able to manually control the boat)

  • A cheap and simple wind direction sensor

    Nanoseb08/11/2016 at 21:49 0 comments

    For an autonomous sailing boat application the wind direction sensor is a key component because the sail settings as well as the sailing strategy rely on the direction of the wind. We have chosen an affordable, simple and easy to waterproof solution based on a magnetometer (we are actually using a complete IMU, but only utilise the magnetometer part) and magnets.

    Two magnets are placed on the moving part of the wind vane so they rotate with the wind vane over the magnetometer which is located on the wind vane mast. Having the magnetometer fixed to the boat allows it to be waterproofed easily.

    In order for it to work properly, the distance between the magnets and the magnetometer has to be trimmed so that the magnetometer doesn't saturate but the magnetic field created by the magnets is large enough to overpower the earth one.

    The orientation of the magnets is also important, it has to create a moving magnetic field on the sensor when the wind vane is in rotation (and of course if you are using several magnets be sure they add their magnetic field to one another).



    The rest is done on the software side, a calibration is needed to account for the position of the magnets, their orientation and the magnetometer. We have used a standard magnetometer calibration method (see our github), to get the wind direction a simple arctangent of the 2 (X and Y) normalised components of the magnetic field will give the wind direction.

    With this solution we have estimated the precision to be about 5° to 10°, it is good enough for our application. To improve this value one can couple another magnetometer attached to the boat to subtract the magnetic field of the earth.


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Adam Fabio wrote 08/12/2016 at 02:03 point

Awesome sailboat! I've added you to the waterborne projects list

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TTN wrote 08/12/2016 at 00:44 point

I've just found your website. Loads of good reading there. Maybe put a link in the Details section of the projects page so its easier for people to find?

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TTN wrote 08/12/2016 at 00:41 point

I love it! The concept of robotic sailing boats is a super fun one. Keep us posted. I'm interested to see how it goes with your project :-)

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