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Check Out the Roboat

The Roboat is a GPS-guided Autonomous Boat.

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Meet the "Roboat" - a robotic boat capable of following a digitized route on a Google Earth map using GPS technology and a digital compass. If only our building had a moat instead of a parking lot, this would be a great vessel for our AVC! Still there could be some lessons to be learned from this project, so check it out.

The Roboat using an XBee, an HMC6352 Digital Compass, an Arduino Pro Mini, and a host of other products to navigate the high seas autonomously. It uses the XBee to link to a land-loving PC and relays it's coordinates back to the computer. Check out the above video for a demonstration or check out the website to see more details about the Roboat. Happy sailing!

Comments 15 comments

  • It'd be a really cool project to create an Robot that can traverse the world. Probably relatively easy to do given all the Military UAV's and NASA's work exploring Mars. I just don't know of anyone who has done it.

    • This idea brings up an interesting point- there are private companies trying to develop the ability to get stuff to orbit. There is also a hostile, alien world nearby that is largely unexplored (by which I mean large swaths of the ocean, and plenty of land that is too dense, remote, or otherwise unsuitable for humans to get deeply into). I have thought about how a new generation of rover builders (for Mars, or a moon of Jupiter) could arise out of the vast open-source Nerd Herd by making efforts to explore things here that are hard to get to. A lot of relevant exploration might be possible by going to places that are not specifically covered up by commercial and governmental monitoring, those that have no obvious commercial or strategic interest, and no pressing scientific reason known to attract attention. Automatic cave/karst mapping would be interesting, and you would have to figure out ways to get the data out. I think this is a great idea, jakkjakk. Missions to Earth. Someone start a google group and design a logo...

      • That is a fantastic idea, I have often fantasised about making a rover to drive around the moon with... but as always it never got passed a fantasy as I don't have the means to get it there. But a small, rugged solar powered boat (or similar) with a satelite modem, gps, compass, sonar and lots of cameras etc etc you could send off on fantastic voyages, granted it'd cost a lot (Especially the satelite bandwidth) but just imagine how significant it would be to the open source community, then fit the boat out with a little rover or something to go on shore or a quad copter even. Totally awesome

        • Another idea is to have something like the AVC, but have a team category- Aerial, Marine, and Terrestrial. Maybe something not so prosaic as a relay race, but more of something like a hare and hound competition that requires coordination between the various robots and use of the unique strengths of each. So each bot would have to be good, but they would also have to be good together. I wonder.

          • I like this idea. Make it a problem solver: You have to get something from a island of radius 3 meters and transport it across a 15 meter waterway. Teams can use aerial or terrestrial (IE, helicopter it out, or make an amphibian). Make it time based, but score the two seperately (since a quadcopter could probably do it in under a minute).

            • Interesting. This sounds like fun, and a natural way for the capabilities to evolve into something awesome.

      • Yeah, that's probably the only reason most of the expeditions to mars have failed; not using sparkfun products :)

        Anyone else up to an AVC contest on the moon? First one 'round the crater wins.

        • Hehehe, someone get pete out there to walk the course so everyone know's the layout of the craters rim. Get NASA to fund it and he'll bring them back a few moon rocks to replace the ones that NASA has lost over the years :-)

      • I did some digging on this and found out about underwater gliders http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwater_glider They tried to circumnavigate the world using a glider named Silbo but it failed http://www.ioos.gov/news_splash.html.

        • This sort of thing could be done on a more modest scale (obviously from the post above.) I live near a Great Lake in Michigan, and there are all sorts of things going on under there. There are wrecks of boats, and who knows what. It would be interesting to see if one could get a glider to surface and correct course to come up in Chicago or Wisconsin.

  • can anyone help me I build a boat i have Xbee Pro, arduino uno , Compass Module - HMC6352 i want to build if i lost my signaal he going to return to home mode ? if you can help me contact me on :


  • Nice project! For those interested in more information Google "Autonomous Surface Vessel" or go to the website for the AUVSI: http://www.auvsi.org/Home/ and take a look at the student competitions at http://www.auvsifoundation.org/foundation/competitions/ . Cool stuff and a large amount of high-grade info to sift through.

  • wow was that done by spark fun staff? and was the boat made by spark fun not just modified.

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