Engineering students design self-propelled robotic boat

London, April 20 (Inditop) An unmanned boat Avalon that can navigate the seas on its own steam has been designed by mechanical engineering students.

It has already had a taste of the water on Lake Zurich. Admittedly, the first run ended on a sandbank, but that can happen to any sailor.

Avalon has a good excuse – the software programme that really enables it to sail by itself is still very much in its infancy. However, the students from ETH Zurich are confident that they can overcome the teething problems.

Avalon has been an in-house development, tailored to suit all the conditions an unmanned boat will be exposed to on the open seas.

“We believe that this will give us a crucial advantage over many of the other contenders in the International Microtransat Challenge,” explained Hendrik Erckens, who heads the project together with Gion-Andri B�sser.

The students are looking to enter Avalon in the Challenge 2009, where it is supposed to sail from the west coast of Ireland to the Caribbean entirely on its own, a distance of 7,000 km, said an ETH release.

The eight ETH Zurich students designed Avalon using state-of-the-art techniques, with a length of four metres.