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Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.

Images provided by Charles Bombardier

The concept

The Nauki is a self-driving sailboat concept powered by the wind. Its main purpose would be to sail the world’s oceans and relay scientific and technical data pertaining to marine conditions. Its sails can be deployed and retracted automatically from its storage below deck depending on the weather. The boat is covered with solar panels to power all the monitoring and scientific equipment.

The background

It would be a drone piloted by artificial intelligence and tasked with patrolling the oceans, collecting air and water samples, and monitoring its environment continuously. Earlier this year, I created a first concept revolving around this idea called the Mariner. After discussing the downside of using a catamaran design with Olivier Peraldi, I decided to create a craft less prone to capsizing and capable of protecting its sails during storms.

How it works

The Nauki is a 30-meter-long sailboat that would feature all the new technology and innovation of current sailboats. It would feature a retractable mast and sails and a storage bay in its hull.

The Nauki’s navigational artificial intelligence (AI) program would navigate the ship to various places across the globe. The AI would plot a course to each destination and adapt it based on weather conditions, traffic, and other metrics. It could also alter its course slightly to investigate unusual patterns such as a meteorological phenomenon, an unregistered ship, or an unmapped island.

The Nauki’s deck would be covered with solar cells to accumulate energy during sunny days. A fuel cell would also provide power to the electric-driven propeller and rudders. A small wind turbine could also be rigged on the Nauki to help recharge its power pack.

The Nauki would be equipped with existing marine cameras, radars, and sensors. The data could be sent by satellite to the boat’s owners. The R&D and tooling cost required to manufacture such a boat is significant. However, if such a project were undertaken by a mixed consortium, the project’s unit cost will be reduced dramatically and it would become viable.

What it’s used for

The Nauki would help us better understand how the oceans work and how they evolve. It would be used by oceanographic institutes, universities specializing in marine biology or weather forecasting, and even non-profit organizations. It could also be used by companies to improve commerce (shipping and fisheries) and it’s almost certain that governments (Coast Guard, Navy, Immigration, and DEA) would use it to patrol coast lines.

I hope you like the idea. As always, it’s a draft, so don’t hesitate to comment on it and contact me if you have some idea to push this concept further.

The designer

The Nauki concept was developed in collaboration with Olivier Peraldi and Adolfo Esquivel. Esquivel earned an Industrial Design degree from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia and completed postgraduate study on Events Design at the UQAM of Montreal. He currently works as a freelance industrial designer based in Montreal. He also created the design of the Exocycle urban bike and the Otöcon border patrol drone.

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