Date of Original Version
Here we describe an Electrical Engineering senior design project that was performed at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) in New London, CT, during the 2012-2013 academic year. The objective of this project was to design and prototype a fully autonomous sailboat capable of competing in the annual SailBot competition in the 2-meter class. SailBot is a North American competition for robotic sailboats, and competition is held at the 1-meter, 2-meter, and “open class” (up to 4-meters in length). While competition includes manual as well as autonomous events, our primary focus this year has been to design a vessel that is capable of autonomous navigation around a race course. A secondary focus (also useful for testing) has been to include capability for manual navigation and sail trim. The system employs MatlabTM scripts, an Airmar weather sensor, and various servos (rudder and sail), to perform autonomous (or manual) navigation to a given GPS waypoint. This project encompasses all aspects of the engineering design process, from physically altering the platform to designing and testing a digital rudder controller. This year's two-person team focused on adding autonomous functionality and robust controller design, while increasing the both hardware and software reliability.
Williamsz, B., Kane, J., Hartnett, R.J., Swaszek, P.F., "Senior Project Design of a Two Meter Autonomous Sailboat," Proceedings of the 2014 International Technical Meeting of The Institute of Navigation, San Diego, California, January 2014, pp. 594-600.