It's no longer unusual to hear of ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean. It almost seems routine, but it's still not easy. A British man, seeking to prove it can be done by an unmanned ship, hopes to break a record with his unmanned vessel, Snoopy Sloop. Robin Lovelock, a former scientist for NATO, wants to be the first person to successfully navigate an unmanned toy boat 6,000 miles across the sea.
Snoopy Sloop (which has a toy Snoopy doll resting on its bow) is four feet long and weighs just 30 pounds. Lovelock put the boat together using parts he purchased online for around $720. The tiny watercraft is wind-powered, and it uses a solar-powered GPS and computer system to stay on its path. It has a tracking device that sends a signal to Lovelock every hour with the boat's whereabouts.
If all goes according to plan, Snoopy Sloop will cruise south to the Azores, catching the trade winds to the Bahamas and eventually landing near where the pilgrims landed, at Plymouth Rock. The tiny vessel travels at only about three miles per hour, so the journey could take up to six months. Weather permitting, the boat will set sail on Saturday.
Snoopy Sloop logged more than 5,000 miles on the calmer waters of Bray Lake while sailing continuously for seven months, proving it has staying power. So why is Lovelock doing this? It's all a part of a competition called the Microtransat Challenge. The race began in 2010, but none of the competitors successfully completed the challenge. Lovelock hopes to be the first to do so, but so do his competitors.
Perhaps he'll find a tiny bottle of Champagne to christen the boat, or to celebrate after it reaches its destination.