Colin Angus is helping create an automated, uncrewed boat he hopes will sail across the Atlantic Ocean. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

B.C. couple hopes boat drone becomes first to cross Atlantic

Colin and Julie Angus of Victoria to have drone collect environmental data en route

A small boat drone is being built in Victoria for a big exhibition.

The vessel will set out on a potential world record-breaking, 5,000-kilometre journey from L’Anse aux Meadows, Nfld. to Ireland, travelling at four knots (eight kilometres/hour) – about an average kayaker’s pace – over three to four weeks beginning in June 2018.

The predominantly solar-powered boat is the latest project for self-described Victoria ‘adventurers’ Julie and Colin Angus, who hope their boat becomes the first unmanned autonomous boat to successfully cross the Atlantic Ocean.

“It’s something that hasn’t been done yet, although there’s been 27 attempts,” Julie says. “There’s a lot of challenges with undertaking an initiative like this. Everything from the big seas, potential hurricanes, to discarded fishing gear.

“I believe one was even attacked by a shark.”

Built in conjunction with University of Victoria engineering students who are creating its electronic navigation, speed control and collision avoidance systems, the boat will be 7.5 metres (24 feet) long, weigh around 150 kilograms (300 pounds) and be able to withstand hurricanes and capsizing.

Research scientist John Fyfe at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis is advising on oceanography and sensors, as well as planning the course and timing of the route, which will depend on weather conditions including fog and wind.

And while breaking a world record is reason enough for the expedition, the journey itself is meaningful.

The boat drone will collect oceanic and environmental data for scientific and climate change research. Once in the water, it will continuously update its position using two separate satellite tracking units and transmitting data. Julie says similar boats could be used for future research purposes, in the oil and gas industry, and even for observing coastlines and monitoring illegal fishing.

The drone’s oceanic route, beginning from the northernmost tip of Newfoundland, will reverse the route the Vikings took over 1,000 years ago when they came from Europe to North America.

“We decided we wanted to leave from L’Anse aux Meadows for the historical significance, but also because it is a good route for this boat to travel,” Julie says. “There’s definitely a historical connection there, this being a historical first in terms of an unmanned boat crossing the Atlantic.”

Building and testing should be completed by the end of December 2017. The Anguses will be finalizing plans for a cross-Canada educational tour early 2018 ahead of the launch, and the boat will be transported to Newfoundland in May. Visitors to the Angus’s website can view the boat drone’s location in real time once the expedition begins.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Fernie Snow Drags; an ongoing tradition

Like wild animals filled with an everlasting rage, sleds flew down the… Continue reading

Shypitka reacts to BC budget

Kootenay East MLA laments increased taxation, spending

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

BC BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. family first to receive reimbursement for life-altering arthritis drug

Effective medication used to treat rare form of juvenile arthritis costs $19,000 a month

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

IIO: Kamloops RCMP did not have to report shooting

The IIO is not investigating an officer-involved shooting that occurred in Kamloops in 2017

No smoke alarm, faulty cord contributed to fatal B.C. fire

Faulty electric cord and power source connected to space heater believed to have caused flames

Walmart partners online grocery service to bring Vancouver home delivery

Move expands upon similar efforts announced last November to grow home delivery service

BC Wine Institute to take legal action against Alberta

The BC Wine Institute to seek injunction to protect B.C. wineries from Alberta wine ban

BC BUDGET: Tobacco tax hike may light up black market in smokes

NDP government adds another 56 cents per pack as of April 1

Most Read