Our first prototype is a 2.4m length sailing boat with one single sail mounted on a balestron. There are only two actuators : one for the rudders and one for the rotating mast. It is equipped with a GPS, a full attitude sensor (heading and angular rate are used for low level heading control and roll is used for high level wind direction estimation) and a wind sensor (speed and direction). Communication between the boat and the ground station is made by a 868MHz modem serial protocol. Communication range is about 5km. Amperage is about 700mA under 12V (including a constant half duplex communication at 4800Bds). Energy comes from two classical lead batteries allowing for 15 hours of autonomy.
A second prototype is has sailed in 2010-2011. The concept is the same with several small improvements : more robust sail system, more efficient actuators ; and a major improvement : it will be actually fully autonomous because it will be fully covered by photovoltaic panels allowing for a peak power of 80W. A 50Ah Lithium-Ion battery will be used to store the energy.
All systems are organized on a common CAN 2.0b bus and a 12V common voltage. This choice make easier the integration of parts coming from different members of the team. The embedded computer is an Infineon C167.
During the 11 real tests last year the first prototype has shown a very sound behavior. It is relatively fast (3knts with 15knts of wind) and sound (tacking is easy).
The third protoytpe is currently under developpment . It will be the one that will try to cross the atlantic ocean. As so, the design will be different : the type of the sail will change, rudders will be driven by a different mechanism and the battery will be more powerful. It willl need tests in bad weather conditions to be sure of its ability to sucessfully do the crossing.