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FishPi: Raspberry Pi Powered Autonomous Boat To Cross the Ocean 136

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the dolphins-protest-sea-drone-program dept.
lukehopewell1 writes "The Raspberry Pi is a triumph in computing, and it's now set to become a triumph in robotics as one developer plans to build a model boat around it and sail it across the Atlantic Ocean, completely unmanned. It's codenamed FishPi and will see a model boat sail across the Atlantic all by itself save for a camera, GPS module, compass and solar panels." The creator is posting updates on the build progress using a forum on his website.
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FishPi: Raspberry Pi Powered Autonomous Boat To Cross the Ocean

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @11:54AM (#40468201)

    "BitCoin"..."Raspberry Pi"...Bingo!

  • available on the cheap to a script kiddie near you

    • by RichMan (8097) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @12:04PM (#40468353)

      Make it an underwater glider and give homeland security another panic attack.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They're probably already worried about it being used in quantity for drug running. How do you arrest someone that isn't there?

        • The FishPi can't carry much cargo, so it isn't that much useful for drug running at that size.

          And even if some drug lord decide to fit it into one of the cheap plastic minisubmarine, you have a second problem:
          The FishPi needs some way to get updated information about its waypoint (given changing weather conditions) and update its position to mission control (and upload nice webcam pictures). For the final fishpi, it's going to be made with a sattelite modem. If it was fitted into some drug running vehicle,

          • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @12:47PM (#40468929)

            So you make it a little bigger. Better yet get rid of the hull. Just press your drugs into a boat like shape, seal that in plastic and install the hardware to turn it into a DrugFishPi.

            I am not sure how you would know which modem is a drug one or not. The only data the drugfishpi needs to send is final location.

            • by Phoghat (1288088)
              Jambalaya drugfishpi and a file gumbo

              'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma cher amio

              Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh

              Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou.

              as the drugs come straight up th ol' Mississip, right to a drug lord by you, because we made them illegal.

          • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @12:49PM (#40468977) Homepage Journal

            Drug runner are much better of using onboard human brain power getting updates over FM radio.

            The premise is that if you use robots you can spam them. Drugs are cheap where they are produced, some of them amazingly so. People are cheap too, but getting them to where you want them isn't necessarily. If you can build lots of small smuggling drones with toy technology and then spam your target with them, and have them receive-only until they are near their destination, there's no reason why they should be easily detected. The same is true, of course, of fleets of autonomous bombs.

            • by egamma (572162)

              Drug runner are much better of using onboard human brain power getting updates over FM radio.

              The premise is that if you use robots you can spam them. Drugs are cheap where they are produced, some of them amazingly so. People are cheap too, but getting them to where you want them isn't necessarily. If you can build lots of small smuggling drones with toy technology and then spam your target with them, and have them receive-only until they are near their destination, there's no reason why they should be easily detected. The same is true, of course, of fleets of autonomous bombs.

              Then there's the problem of random people on the beach picking up your drugs and stealing them.

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Then there's the problem of random people on the beach picking up your drugs and stealing them.

                When they get near the target they can start sending out pings with encrypted telemetry.

                • What answers the question of "how can the police arrest somebody that isn't there?"

                  The police goes where the criminal are, guided by signal triangulation if needed. They could also follow a sub with their own $50 sub, but it was never practical to search the water for that kind of thing anyway, it won't become practical now (if one puts the price 3 or 4 orders of magnitude lower, that may change).

          • by BitZtream (692029)

            As the comment above me says, the brains of this thing will work in an oceanliner almost as well as what they are currently in, so scaling it up enough to work for cargo isn't an issue.

            You can run it underwater with a floating dongle/antenna at the service. Practically impossible to see on the ocean open in ANY form, electronic or otherwise unless you happen to get hit by the dongle when it passes you by.

            You're acting like they'd have to use THIS configuration to get it to work. You go receive only, no tr

            • Practically impossible to see on the ocean open in ANY form, electronic or otherwise unless you happen to get hit by the dongle when it passes you by.

              So, just like any regular boat?

          • by Phoghat (1288088)

            If it was fitted into some drug running vehicle, it could be rather easy to spot and triangulate the modem.

            But first you'd have to know it was a drug running vehicle, now wouldn't you? he Pi costs peanuts, model boats cost a little more, send out a few vehicles, and one has a payload. Q.E.D.

        • by fa2k (881632)

          They're probably already worried about it being used in quantity for drug running.

          What a cool idea! If it really is cheap, it could do for cargo what the internet did for information. Only problem would be that irresponsible users would fill the ocean with junk.

        • http://www.tv.com/shows/trailer-park-boys/going-off-the-rails-on-the-swayze-train-1070439/ [tv.com]

          This was the plot of a few Trailer park Boys Episodes. They had a model train running in the forest between the US and Canadian boarders.

      • Given that underwater gliders, usually with a fairly high degree of autonomy(if for no other reason than communicating underwater on teeny batteries is damn difficult), have been a thing in oceanography for some years, I imagine that team jackboots has either already had their panic attack, or is too dense to start now.

        Incidentally, though: I'm actually surprised that they went with a boat design, rather than a glider design. Yes, submersion-proofing electronics isn't entirely trivial; but some of those
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          some of those gliders are crazy efficient, and have a convenient invulnerability to even the nastiest wind/waves/salt-spray forming a crust on stuff, by virtue of spending most of their life underwater...

          The problem is that they spend most of their life underwater, which means that they're not going to get a lot of solar power. Also, stuff can still crust on them, it just won't be salt. It'll be life.

          • Also, stuff can still crust on them, it just won't be salt. It'll be life.

            Yep, when I was in the Navy, my sub would come back from a three month patrol pretty much covered in algae and young barnacles. In the summer sunshine in King's Bay, the smell was... impressive.

        • Nevermind glider design, they went with amounts to a rowboat or fishing boat hull. That thing is going to capsize during the first gnarly wave or wind gust, and will never right itself. I predict it will make it about 100 miles before it is never heard of again.

          All in all, that concept is going to utterly fail for a number of reasons. I guess that's what happens when landlubbers try to go boating.

          • 130W solar cells to drive it, with no masts or sails.

            Which means, under ideal conditions, a trolling motor pushing you across the Atlantic.

            Good luck with that.

          • by toygeek (473120)

            Did you RTFA or go to the guys website? Its a PROOF OF CONCEPT hull- he's going with a trimaran or catamaran for the actual sea trials. This is going on a lake. Do you really think that somebody who's going to all this trouble is going to just GUESS what will work on a TRANS ATLANTIC journey thats never been done before?

    • by arth1 (260657)

      It's nothing new. I've picked my share of Corona beer bottles tossed in the ocean on the US east coast and crossing the Atlantic to Western Europe, without the assistance of a Raspberry Pi.

    • Raspberry Pi has your cargo ship... please deposit $1 million dollars for its safe return.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @11:58AM (#40468271)
    Shouldn't this be an article of after they built it and it about to leave on it's trip? I could say hey I'm creating a rocket launch system and rocket guidance system using Raspberry Pi that will take my hamster not only into near earth orbit but also using GPS and compass gliding back to earth to my backyard all caught on it's internal camera. Oh and it's all solar powered. Call it RocketPi. Come on.... Anyone can start building anything wait for it ready to be tested before everyone goes ape over it.
    • by mk1004 (2488060)

      Yes, this is just a concept, nothing more. Further, as written there's no way to check its progress. There are systems available that use GPS and a transmitter to periodically send position data to a satellite. It's not likely we're going to get live images.

      Even if it's successfully built and launched, a lot could go wrong and it's likely no one would ever know why.

    • Seriously. So far he's put some electronics into a Tupperware container and bought a model boat. Seriously. Made for a good laugh!

      I mean all the best luck to him, but as far as a Slashdot story, hilarious!

      Were I to do it seriously I would think about making several just in case. Heck it wasn't that long ago that real ships population by real people had a hard time making it across the pond without sinking.

      Also on that thought, I would through away your silly model boat, and fabricate one out of something a

    • Shouldn't this be an article of after they built it and it about to leave on it's trip? I could say hey I'm creating a rocket launch system and rocket guidance system using Raspberry Pi that will take my hamster not only into near earth orbit but also using GPS and compass gliding back to earth to my backyard all caught on it's internal camera. Oh and it's all solar powered. Call it RocketPi. Come on.... Anyone can start building anything wait for it ready to be tested before everyone goes ape over it.

      I wish I could mod this to 11

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @11:58AM (#40468273) Journal

    Come on now. It's a nifty device, that's about it.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      its not even that considering most of us cant even order one, and those who can are totally left in the dark about when or even if they will receive one

      meh

      • by chispito (1870390)
        I ordered with Newark here in the US the day after they went up for pre-order and got mine in early June. Their FAQ says that by the first week of July, they (Farnell) will have shipped 100k units. I think that's pretty encouraging, since this is from just one of the two distributors, even if demand so high as to produce long waits.

        source: http://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-43262?ICID=rasp_group [element14.com]

        Q. Are you on track with your promise to fill all back orders? A. Yes. We made a promise to customers who ordered before 18th April, that they would ship their Pi’s before the end of June. We are on track to keep that commitment. We will have shipped out 41,000 Raspberry Pis by the end of May and our customers will have received, or will be receiving their Pis over the next few days. We are on track to have shipped 100,000 Raspberry Pis by the end of June and have further production planned for delivery to customers in July. (Modified on 20-June : We're sorry to have to say that due to an unforeseen production delay with our manufacturer, there will be a short delay of up to 1 week. Orders that were received before 18th April will now be shipped at the end of June / early July. For orders received after the 18th April, we will be shipping those deliveries throughout July into August. We will send you an email confirming your delivery prior to despatch.)

  • by bradgoodman (964302) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @12:00PM (#40468289) Homepage
    Woo hoo! I can't wait to pick the thing up on eBay after the Somali pirates get a hold of it! ;-)
    • Re:eBay (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @12:16PM (#40468499)

      Breaking news: Somali pirates are now in the Atlantic. And now we go to Steve for the weather.

    • Yarr! thar be a Raspberry Pi off the port bow!!

      Raise the jolly roger my friends, we be going after all the sweet MAME booty that only a $30 computer can provide.... Pacman and Burgertime ye lads!

  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @12:01PM (#40468317) Journal
    I was wondering why a Kort Nozzle & Propeller were selected for propulsion. A wave propulstion system would be potentially more reliable for the long haul.
    • I was wondering why a Kort Nozzle & Propeller were selected for propulsion. A wave propulstion system would be potentially more reliable for the long haul.

      Ducted props are a pretty mature technology at this point.

      • I'm still trying to picture a boat the size of a skateboard with a 1.5" propellor going up and down 20 foot waves. How can it go in a straight line under conditions like that?
        • The problem you describe could simply be a case of severe failing-to-think-it-through. However, with patience and a decent feedback/compensation mechanism, it might be possible to simply sidestep the problem entirely.

          Have you ever watched, in video or in person, a bunch of ants moving? The little klutzes can barely walk properly. They run around, stagger all over the place, trip, slide, attempt to climb structurally unsound objects, tumble over one another, etc. However, on average the aggregate ant mass
        • Waves aren't that big out on the open ocean. It's more of a gentle rise and fall.

          Big waves are made when the wave motion interacts with a shallow bottom like near shore.
          • by DrData99 (916924)

            Wow. You clearly have never been out in the ocean in a storm. Waves can get Really Really Big. And they do.
            Hell, just look up the Deadliest Catch episode where a rogue wave breaks the window on the bridge if you don't believe...

  • I hope he posts updates or enables live tracking..

    That way we can try and sink it, I'll get the kickstarter project going.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    get it?

  • A sailboat would be a real challenge.

    • For extra credit: The only airflow sensors you get are strain gauges at the attachment points of the sail(s), so your power/control surface is also your sensor array... Modeling textile behavior in a fluid system,in real time, is totally within the capabilities of a weedy little ARM core, right?
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Modeling textile behavior in a fluid system,in real time, is totally within the capabilities of a weedy little ARM core, right?

        It probably is, but you probably don't have to. As long as you have a sensor that gives you your heading, you should be able to figure it out without actually understanding what the sail is doing with any precision; either it's pulling or it isn't. On the other hand, you'd pretty much have to make it out of unobtainium to get it to cross the ocean at that size.

        It would be fairly awesome to build a full scale autonomous yacht, though, and it might not even be all that expensive aside from the solar panels, w

  • ...an old black and white movie called Mystery Liner, about a futuristic ocean liner that used some yet-to-be-invented technology to let it navigate the ocean autonomously. Always nice to see another sci-fi dream come true.

  • If it wasn't for model boats they wouldn't have gotten the idea for the big boats... right?

  • I can understand the hull they're using for testing in a controlled area, but why not just build a crappy boat with hull and test with that. They won't be able to deploy this model to the ocean, something more like a submarine that travels on the surface would be a better design.
  • I hope he has insurance on that ;)

  • These are just future slashdot titles.

    Next time someone straps a Raspberry Pi onto some object (Dog, Cat, Bat, Grumpy (from Snowwhite)), you'll see it right here. Best thing, it doesn't even have to work.

    In fact, Pi-ing is the next planking.

  • By TFAs mention of 130 watts solar the boat will need to be quite a lot bigger than what I would quantify as a harmless toy reflected in the proof of concept work.

    Please don't forget proper lights, active+passive radar reflectors and ais on the non-toy version. There are enough hazards out there to real people who are all required to keep a lookout at all times.

    Instead of a larger boat with a large array, problems and power requirements to go with consider something creative... using wave motion, sails or r

  • A boat that size must keep a watch at all times. Also there's the small issue of the COLREGS [wikipedia.org], which aren't simple to follow even for humans. It's a serious safety issue. Obviously not for the unmanned boat, but for other vessels that may come in its way.
    • by slasho81 (455509)
      Ignore the above. I wasn't paying enough attention.
  • by Speare (84249) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @01:27PM (#40469485) Homepage Journal

    At the rate that Raspberry Pi units are being made and shipped, this may very well be the first RPi that arrives on this side of the pond.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the concept, I feel for the group that has designed the thing, I have just been frustrated at the lack of availability.

  • I really do not care... People act like the Pi is some revolutionary thing, the likes of which, have never been seen by human eyes. Whoop... De... Do... Go smoke your fish pie
  • So this guy is going to send a 20 inch long model boat across the Atlantic. Right.

    The Liquid Robotics Wave Gliders [liquidr.com] already travel around the world's oceans autonomously. Liquid Robotics sent Wave Gliders from Hawaii to California, then up to Alaska and back. The Wave Glider looks like a surfboard, and trails an underwater "glider". As wave action moves the surfboard up and down, the gliders's spring-loaded vanes pull it forward. The glider has a powered rudder, the only moving part. The surfboard has sol

  • Should have called it 'PiSeas.'
  • How is it possible to keep a water tight junction between the propeller and the hull? The propeller axis must cross the boundary somewhere. I have never understood how that works ... This same problem applies to regular big ships as well as submarines.
    • by aXis100 (690904)

      About a billion devices out there have a seal around a rotating shaft - everything from pumps to tap handles. Generally it's either a Mechanical Seal or a Radial Shaft Seal - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End_face_mechanical_seal [wikipedia.org]

      For simple applications, a precisely machined close fitting bush will keep out water and if made of the right material will also be a self lubricating bearing too.

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