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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Award-winning documentary shares the modern story of Huu-ay-aht First Nations

Broadcast premiere of documentary will take place in Port Alberni on Jan. 29

Australian investigators head to C-130 plane crash site

B.C. gov’t makes statement, sends condolences to Coulson Aviation

UPDATED: Tofino-Ucluelet highway will be open for “essential travel only” on Friday

Vehicles will be screened at the Tofino/Ucluelet junction and at Sproat Lake.

Veteran Island journalist battles cancer through pioneering treatment

Vancouver Island rallies around JR Rardon and family during stay in Seattle

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Province’s oldest practising lawyer shares advice at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

B.C. man dies after police called for ‘firearms injury’ in rural Alberta

Victim is 30-year-old Greater Victoria man, say police

Mayors call for ‘calmness’ as highway rockslide cuts Tofino, Ucluelet off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Most Read