Project: Beagle-B

Technical details:

Picture of Beagle-B

Beagle-B is a large sailing robot 3.5 metres in length. It was built by robosoft in early 2007 and is intended to remain at sea for prolonged periods of time. It is powered by two photovoltaic solar panels and 4 60Ah lead acid batteries (similar to car batteries), this should allow almost indefinite operation as the solar panels keep the batteries charged. The sail is a wing sail similar to those used on AROO and ARC except it is built from carbon fibre and despite being over 2 metres tall it only weighs 13kg and can easily be lifted by one person. Beagle-B's hull is taken from a mini-G dinghy intended for use by handicapped sailors, it is designed to be very difficult to capsize and to self right in the event that it does capsize. The whole system is controlled by a gumstix single board computer running the Linux operating system, this provides most of the functions of a full computer but uses less than 1 watt and is only the size of stick of chewing gum. An ultrasonic wind sensor, GPS and tilt compensated compass provide the gumstix with information about how the boat is currently sailing allowing it to decide what position to put the rudder and sail into.

We are currently fitting Beagle-B with a multi-parameter oceanographic sensor known as a Sonde, this allows us to sample water temperature, salinity, turpidity (amount of material suspend in the water), conducitivity, disolved carbon dixoide content and chlorophyll content. Beagle-B is also outfitted with a GSM modem which allows us to communication through a mobile network and a satellite phone, this will allow it to transmit back data about water quality regardless of where in the world it is.

Research / Projects:

Beagle-B will be used to measure water quality and in summer 2008 it will also be equipped with a hydrophone to listen for dolphins in Cardigan bay as part of research being performed by Aberystwyth University's Institute of Biological Sciences into whether there is a correlation between where dolphins are found and water quality.

Related publications:

  • [Sauze, C., Neal, M. J.] Design considerations for sailing robots performing long term autonomous oceanography. In proccedings of the International Robotic Sailing Conference, Breitenbrunn, Austria, May 23rd-24th 2008, pages 21-29.
  • [Sauze, C., Neal, M. J.] A Biologically inspired approach to longer term autonomy and survival in sailing robots. In proccedings of the International Robotic Sailing Conference, Breitenbrunn, Austria, May 23rd-24th 2008, pages 6-11.