A remarkable tale of sailing grit and cunning has gotten almost no coverage: The University of British Columbia’s Sailbot Team and its Transatlantic Challenge is going on as we speak. The team has developed, designed, and built a roughly 20-foot autonomous sailing catboat, called Ada. This wishbone-rigged, bulb-keeled sailing robot has navigated nearly 2,500 miles in a mostly zag-zag course through the mid-Atlantic. Like most pioneers there have been issues: On August 29th, disaster struck when its rudder froze. Ada has also survived power outages, gear failures and getting crushed by other ships and debris. In spite of her struggles, Ada is making real headway. The craft is 500 miles west of Portugal. And she brings with here real news for humans: her on-board smarts indicate a technology that can evolve in the first real crash-avoidance system for yachts. Humans can expect to see robot-control craft shaping up at the starting lines soon. The Sailbot team is considering entering the Vic to Maui transpacific race in 2018.
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