Click for Delta Click for Mulder Click for Nordhavn Click for Perko Click for Walker

Special Feature: Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship (MARS)

Discussion in 'Future Yachts; Concept Boats' started by YachtForums, Aug 13, 2015.

You need to be registered and signed in to view this content.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship (MARS)

    A pioneering project has been launched which aims to design, build and sail the world's first full-sized, fully autonomous unmanned ship across the Atlantic Ocean. At over 100ft in length The Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship, codenamed MARS, will use state-of-the-art wind and solar technology for its propulsion, enabling an unlimited range. The revolutionary trimaran vessel will carry on board a variety of drones through which it will conduct experiments during its voyage. Following a year-long testing phase, the planned Atlantic crossing in 2020 will mark the 400th anniversary of the original Mayflower sailings from Plymouth England to the North American continent. Project MARS is being developed by a partnership of Plymouth University, autonomous craft specialists MSubs and Shuttleworth Design.
  2. Detailed development of the design is underway and Shuttleworth Design will be preparing scale models for testing in the University's Marine Building. Working within the limitations of renewable energy sources has given a clear direction to the developing form of the vessel. The solar cell area required for effective motoring is too large for efficient sailing and safety in large waves. To overcome this, they are developing a folding wing system to increase the solar cell area by 40% in calm conditions. A trimaran was chosen because it provides the most efficient hull form for low speed motoring. The hull configuration developed from a requirement to reduce windage, while keeping the solar array sufficiently high above the water to reduce wave impact. Without the need for accommodation, the center hull has been kept low to the water and the wings and deck are separated and raised above on struts. This also allows waves to break through the vessel and significantly reduces roll induced by wave impact. The outer hulls are designed to skim the water reducing resistance by 8%.
  3. The two masted soft sail rig, which will enable a top speed of around 20 knots, is designed to work with both or either sails hoisted, giving three sail combinations for varying wind speeds. Each sail is simply controlled by a single sheet, and the sails can stow into the deck taking up minimal space. Stowing the sails while motoring reduces windage and eliminates shadows cast over the solar cells on the deck, while allowing the masts to stay standing to carry navigation lights. Professor Kevin Jones, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University, states: "MARS will be a genuine world-first, and will operate as a research platform, conducting numerous scientific experiments during the course of its voyage. And it will be a test bed for new navigation software and alternative forms of power, incorporating huge advancements in solar, wave and sail technology. As the eyes of the world follow its progress, it will provide a live educational resource to students, a chance to watch, and maybe participate in history in the making."
  4. Plymouth-based firm MSubs will be leading on the construction, using their expertise in building autonomous marine vessels for a variety of global customers. Managing Director Brett Phaneuf states: "The project will confront current regulations governing autonomous craft at sea". He also confirms that conversations have already been initiated with bodies such as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and DNV GL, the international certification and classification society. "While advances in technology have propelled land and air-based transport to new levels of intelligent autonomy, it has been a different story on the sea". Brett states. "The civilian maritime world has, as yet, been unable to harness the autonomous drone technology that has been used so effectively in situations considered unsuitable for humans. It begs the question, if we can put a rover on Mars and have it autonomously conduct research, why can't we sail an unmanned vessel across the Atlantic Ocean and, ultimately, around the globe? That's something we are hoping to answer with MARS."


    • Length Overall 32.5m
    • Beam 16.8m
    • Draft 0.875 m (1.78 m to tip of rudder)
    • Sail Area 159 m2
    • Hull Construction Composite (Glass/Aramid/Foam)
    • Deck Construction Composite (Carbon/Nomex)

    • Speed Max Electric Motoring 12.5 knots
    • Speed Max Sailing 20 knots
    • Range at 5 knots Electric Motoring Unlimited

    For more information contact:

    Shuttleworth Design Ltd
    1 Cockleton Lane
    Cowes, Isle of Wight
    PO31 8JE, United Kingdom

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.