Thursday, February 9, 2012

No. 432: A ship that navigates totally by dint of wave force alone (February 9, 2012)

A research group led by Tokai University Professor Yutaka Terao developed a small ship of wave propulsion that can navigate only by wave force. The hydrofoil wing below the front part of the ship creates propulsion using waves and allows the ship to navigate regardless of the wave direction. Because it navigates only by wave force, it can negative indefinitely as long as it gets waves. Made of rigid urethane, the model is equipped with the global positioning system and microcomputer for arithmetic processing using information on the navigation point, allowing for the autonomous navigation.

It is 1.2 m long and 0.9 m wide with displacement of 5.6 kg. The test navigation was conducted for about 30 m on the coast of Shizuoka Prefecture. It has reportedly the ability to run at 720 m per hour. This is the world’s first unmanned ship that can navigate only by dint of wave force, according to the professor. Because it does not need an engine, it can be used for the measurement of tsunami, observation of waters and undersea volcanoes, and long term voyage for observation. The ship can travel as long as the wind velocity is less than 5 meters per second at the present stage. The ship was not able to navigate in another experiment because it was adrift in the midst of a gale with a velocity of 11 meters per second. The research team is making strenuous efforts to make the ship navigate under any circumstances.

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