In the Irish Sea off Wales this week, a new kind of robot is taking to the waves. For once, this is not a military kill-droid, nor a securo-pork powered surveillance machine. Instead, we are seeing the debut of the fully-autonomous sailboat, which uses its own software to navigate out at sea. For now the uninhabited windjammers …
I for one..
... welcome our new nautical robot overlords! Oh hang on, this isnt slashdot...
More solar panel issues?
Why has no-one thought to create a robust, low-power wiper blade capable of cleaning mucky solar panels? Given the hassle this problem causes the martian rovers and the like, you'd think that someone would be looking into the issue...
A gull is sitting on you, crapping?
Just tack. The boom'll push him off.
And once you've got more than 10 (whatever) miles offshore, he'll push off back to home to the Council dump.
For those who've not experienced one of these things, a Topper is essentially a windsurfer with a slightly fatter surfboard and a rudder. You sit on it, not in it. And in any wind above a gnat's fart, it's more unstable than Paris Hilton, Naomi Campbell and Amy Winehouse rolled into one. Excellent fun, but not what I'd call a solid test platform. And this is going to cross the oceans, right?
They might as well just throw all the electronic gear straight in the briny right now, and cut out the middleman. Save themselves a few months of work as well.
I'm impressed - El Reg has managed to get poo and urine into headlines today; you're now only missing sweat, blood and tears. Unless someone claims that's what went into writing the articles in the first place.
A few problems with 'robust, low-power' wipers. One, automated wipers add weight; Two they're another point of failure; Three, they add complexity. Merely adding redundant capacity is simple, non-complex, and relatively lightweight. Why bother with wipers, if you've a simple, off-the-shelf solution at hand?
Lastly, have you ever tried to clean up gull poop? It's like trying to wipe up spilled paint - it smears all over the place. Wipers would likely just wind up spreading the mess about, blocking up far more of the panel than the original plop did. Even supposing you could get a clean sweep, so to speak, gull poop is also usually filled with the abrasive remnants of fish and shellfish, and scours clear surfaces quite well - things like painted and varnished surfaces can wind up scuffed and dulled if you're not careful in the cleanup. Somehow, I doubt the solar panel surfaces will work better after they've been given a good poop-based scrubing.
I think if you put a keel about 5 or 6 linguinis long with a lump of lead on the end about two bulgarian funbags in size a Topper will pick itself up just fine, and given a smaller and more robust mast and sail not be the worst possible platform for the game.
sounds like a better idea than
Hyperion--Jim Clark's Sun multi-workstation-controlled boat, which was about the size of Wales. This one is sun-POWERED requires less of everything, including ego.
A Topper is unstable *because* you sit on it, not in it - and *you* are a great big unbalanced top heavy lump of meat. No offence, like.
With only a few kgs of electronics on board it'll probably do just fine.
For *anything* racing across an ocean some sort of unpowered automatic self-righting would be vital though, I would have thought.
Put some clear plastic foil (think saran wrap) over the solar cells. Advance the roll after bird strikes.
Stick a heavy lead bulb at the end of the dagger board (and screw the dagger board in place so it can't slide up), use a shorter mast with smaller sail, and put a combined float/radar reflector at the top of the mast. Should be fine.
Just remember to put the bung in before you launch ;-)
No lookout then?
It'll be interesting when all our goods purchased from US websites are coming over to the UK on thousands of these boats as being the greener/cheaper(?) option to airfreight, to see if any of them fail to recognise obstacles and have a smallu bump. There might be a few upset divers surfacing near UK wrecks, alternatively there might be a few more wrecks caused that divers can then pillage for small desirable high value goods, especially if they feel narked by having beren bumped on the head by Artoo. Still its better than being hit by a prop.....
"For once, this is not a military kill-droid"
Seems somewhat overly optimistic don't you think? I put it to you that these boffins have complicitly enabled a flotilla of deathbots, to seek and destroy the last vestiges of humanity as they flee to remote islands following the RoTM.
And they're solar-powered no less, allowing this armada of death to forever self-navigate the oceans, as they methodically hunt down any survivors of the post man vs machine apocalypse.
Oh yes, very clever of these twisted individuals to disguise them as human bearing sailboats. No doubt hoping budding family Robinsons will hail down apparent saviours, before transforming into hideous human-slaughtering contraptions.
Couldn't you steal one
or all of them and load them with some explosives just to make it feel right. Maybe just a remote control firearm or two dammit it's too much like kids game without some death.
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