Sail powered boats have been used by humans for many thousands of years, and were one of the most important tools for exploration and colonization of the planet. They have been used for everything from exploration to trade, and fighting to pleasure. To this day, a sailing ship is arguably still the most efficient form of transport on the planet, with zero emissions.
Saildrone uses basic sailing principles, but combines state-of-the-art carbon fiber composites with ultra-efficient aero and hydro dynamics to create an incredibly robust and efficient sailing machine.
The Saildrone is powered by a solid, freely rotating wing that is controlled by a tail. This concept was evolved over a ten year period for the Greenbird project by Richard Jenkins, Saildrone CEO and co-founder. Greenbird currently holds the world speed record for wind-powered vehicles at 126.2 mph.
To control the boat we have designed and built a revolutionary electronics package that is not only incredibly durable and robust, but has extremely low power consumption. This means that with only a few solar panels on the deck, Saildrone's 'brain', navigation, and communication systems can run indefinitely, even at high latitudes where light is limited.
The Saildrone's actuators and electronics are derived from those of unmanned submersibles. Dylan Owens, Saildrone CTO and co-founder has drawn on experience at MIT and on various underwater vehicles to create the electronic hardware and internal systems. The electronics and actuators have pressure rated, submarine-grade housings, for reliable sealing and extreme longevity.
As a result of this ruggedness, the entire Saildrone is able to be held under water for considerable time without any adverse effects. Careful sealing and material selection for the internal components allow them to tolerate the corrosive marine environment.
Saildrone is constructed from high-strength carbon fiber to create an extremely strong and durable structure. While delicate in appearance, Saildrone is engineered to be fully submerged and rolled in extreme waves.
The Saildrone's hydrodynamic design is a hybrid, combining the best features of mono- and multi-hulls. The result is a fully self-righting platform, that also benefits from high righting moments for speed and wave piercing capabilities to reduce pitching and energy absorption from waves.
Saildrone has two payload bays and external payload attachments, configurable to serve varied mission requirements. Total payload weight capacity is currently 100 kg, and can be expanded with larger craft as required. Various power options and sampling solutions are offered depending on the mission specific tasks.