Unmanned Yacht Mars Will Sail TransAtlantic


I have often wondered why it is we can put a rover on the planet Mars and have it autonomously conduct research, yet we cannot we sail an unmanned vessel across the Atlantic Ocean and, ultimately, around the globe.

Now it seems there are plans to do just that! Project MARS is being developed by a partnership of Plymouth University, autonomous craft specialists MSubs and yacht designers Shuttleworth Design.

A pioneering project has been launched which aims to design, build and sail the world’s first full-sized, fully autonomous unmanned ship across the Atlantic Ocean.

At over 33 metres in length The Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship, codenamed Mars, will use state-of-the-art wind and solar technology for its propulsion enabling an unlimited range. The revolutionary trimaran vessel will carry on board a variety of drones through which it will conduct experiments during its voyage.

The two masted soft sail rig, which will enable a top speed of around 20 knots, is designed to work with both or either sails hoisted, giving three sail combinations for varying wind speeds. Each sail is simply controlled by a single sheet, and the sails can stow into the deck taking up minimal space. Stowing the sails while motoring reduces windage and eliminates shadows cast over the solar cells on the deck, while allowing the masts to stay standing to carry navigation lights.

Following a year-long testing phase, the planned Atlantic crossing in 2020 will mark the 400th anniversary of the original Mayflower sailings from Plymouth England to the North American continent.