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

Time to specify where Chilliwack spending priorities should be

It’s that time of year again when City of Chilliwack engages its citizens to weigh in on budgeting

Fantasy Farms told to stop holding special events on farmland that go against agricultural rules

The Morans say it might spell the end of their seasonal events like Reapers Haunted Attractions

Chilliwack school board votes 4-3 not to oppose homeless shelter location

‘The Portal is a response to the problems, not the other way around’: Trustee Willow Reichelt

Birdies fly fast and furious at Chilliwack Badminton Club

The competitive club meets twice weekly in the Rosedale Traditional Community School gymnasium.

Take a nostalgic journey with Doug and the Slugs in Chilliwack

Popular Vancouver ’80s band is at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Oct. 18

VIDEO: #MeToo leader launches new hashtag to mobilize U.S. voters

Tarana Burke hopes to prompt moderators to ask about sexual violence at next debate

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

$100,000 reward for B.C. gangster extended to United States

Police belive fugitive Conor D’Monte may be in the Los Angeles area

Emily Carr University closed Sunday after fire causes some damage

The school is working with Vancouver police to assist their investigation into the fire

Alberta to join B.C.’s class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

B.C. government claims opioids were falsely marketed as less addictive than other pain meds

Most Read