A cleantech solution to collecting ocean data
Our oceans are full of information. Information that can protect at-risk whale species, allow ships to voyage more fuel-efficient routes, crack down on illegal fishing, and enable us to better understand the impacts of climate change. Our boats are equipped with sensors, cameras and communication devices so that we can capture information from anywhere on the ocean and have instant access to it. Harvesting energy from the sun and the wind, our boats travel nonstop for months, without producing any greenhouse gas emissions, noise pollution or risk of oil spills. They are an essential component to creating a digital ocean, an Internet of Things for the sea, where we finally begin to understand some of the most mysterious regions of our planet.
Force 12 Xplorer, our autonomous sailboat, uses our proprietary dual rigid wingsail design. The wingsails are robust, reliable, and maximize the points of sail – the wind direction in which the boat makes progress. The hull and keel design offer optimal stability and self-righting capabilities, so that it can endure the most severe weather conditions, including hurricanes. But it also travels well in light winds, providing superior control and excellent speeds.
It’s propelled entirely by wind, while the solar panel provides power for the sensors, communication devices, processor and rudder actuator. The vessel can navigate completely autonomously, or be controlled remotely using satellite telemetry.
Solar Xplorer is our solar powered autonomous boat. This full-sized prototype (without solar deck) has demonstrated it will be the world’s fastest offshore-capable energy harvesting boat. Carrying 1200 watts of solar panels and lithium ion batteries, the boat will be able to average 4+ knots, day and night, with shorter-term speeds almost double that.
Until now, no one has managed to use solar to adequately power an autonomous boat. The challenge is creating a seaworthy vessel with a sufficiently sized solar array. A monohull doesn’t have enough deck space. Multihulls do, however, it is extremely challenging to make self-righting, essential for an offshore vessel. We’ve overcome this challenge by creating a patented self-righting system for autonomous multi-hull boats, finally allowing the creation of a solar powered autonomous boat for the commercial market.