The Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship, code-named MARS, runs completely on renewable energy, will sail across the Atlantic in 2020, on 400th anniversary of the original Mayflower from Plymouth, England to Plymouth Massachusetts.
The 100 ft long boat that can reach speeds of 12.5 knots with the electric motor and 20 knots with sails, will use drones to gather meteorological, oceanographic and climate data, and monitor changing ocean conditions.
The unmanned ship will make the 3,220 mile trip in 7-10 days.
Detailed development of the design is underway and Shuttleworth Design will be preparing scale models for testing in the University’s Marine Building.
John and Orion Shuttleworth explained:
“Our approach to developing the concept was to fully explore and take advantage of the opportunities that arise from not having to carry crew, and to create a vessel that is capable of using only renewable energy. Working within the limitations of renewable energy sources has given a clear direction to the developing form of the vessel. The solar cell area required for effective motoring is too large for efficient sailing and safety in large waves. To overcome this we are developing a folding wing system to increase the solar cell area by 40% in calm conditions.
A trimaran was chosen because it provides the most efficient hull form for low speed motoring. The hull configuration developed from a requirement to reduce windage, while keeping the solar array sufficiently high above the water to reduce wave impact. Without the need for accommodation, the centre hull has been kept low to the water and the wings and deck are separated and raised above on struts. This allows waves to break through the vessel and significantly reduces roll induced by wave impact. The outer hulls are designed to skim the water reducing resistance by 8%.”