GPS Guided Trans-Atlantic Robot Boat robot boat to cross Atlantic from UK to USA

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Snoopy's Atlantic Attempt : New video ! See "Latest News" below for details.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ! See this year's Lovelock Family Newsletter. Love to All ! :-)
Those on the Microtransat List: Please see Snoopy's Microtransat Contact List - but only if you are on the List already.
PRESS: Please see "latest news" below, before you 'phone me. If you do contact me, please mention "9pm Saturday" so I know that you have :-)
See the Press Release and "latest news" below, for Snoopy's following attempts to cross the Atlantic. Track Snoopy on the live SPOT map below.
Play the June 2014 video of Snoopy's Robot Boat for 2014 Microtransat for the big picture. e.g. details of this year's boat and lessons learned.

BBC TV South broadcast of launch, reported by Ben Moore, BBC Reporter Play the November 2012 video of Snoopy's launch on BBC TV South News with Robin getting soaked. Then family video of Snoopy's 2012 launch with BBC reporters too :-)

Snoopy's GPS Guided Trans-Atlantic Robot Boat

updated 2100 Saturday 20th December 2014 UK time

Robin I set up this page in early 2008, when I started this crazy hobby project: developing a small robot boat, capable of sailing itself across the Atlantic, from UK to USA. If you want to know more about me, our family, or my earlier defence systems career, then GPS software business, you can start by clicking on my picture on the left, or here. I'm Robin Lovelock, and the Press have described me as a "retired NATO scientist". My wife June says that I retired much more than ten years ago !

The French boat from Team ENSTA Bretagne. Click here for 2012 event. After browsing this page and others, you can form your own opinion on myself and this rather challenging project. My local friend John told me about the friendly Microtransat international competition, and I was soon hooked. It was Yves Briere in France, who first suggested the idea in 2004, at a conference. Their early attempts fired my enthusiasm. That's the ENSTA Bretagne boat on the right and at the very top of this page. Click on this picture for the 2012 teams - both with very small boats. From there you can go to other Microtransat pages, maintained by Aberystwyth University in UK. Their web site has been the focus for this activity since 2005, after Dr Mark Neal, at the University, and Yves, conceived the "Microtransat Challenge". Their site includes the rules, teams "competing", and tracking of their robot boats. Over the years, several teams have tried, but all these heroic attempts only survived a few days or a few hundred miles. A journalist pointed out to me, in 2012, that Snoopy had already sailed over 5,000 miles, during our reliability testing of him on Bray Lake in 2012. Snoopy has done a lot more sailing since then, and that's why I am confident Snoopy has as much chance as the other teams ! :-)

You will find links below to more detailed pages, amusing TV broadcasts, newspaper articles, and home videos, of Snoopy's attempts on the Atlantic since November 2012. crazy surfy This year's last Atlantic Attempt, on 30th November, was the best so far: Snoopy got as far as Weymouth, but crash landed near Portland Bill, with little damage. The same boat will try again in early 2015. Earlier in the year, this boat landed on the Isle of Wight, but lived to sail again. The same thing happened in 2013, but for different reasons. Watch our attempts to "beat the surf" in March 2013: now we know how to do it - with Magic Seaweed ! Snoopy's very first attempt was in 2012, and that was perhaps the most mysterious story of all - we never did find where he went, after visiting that military bunker :-)

I give this page a "tidy-up" when I can, moving material onto other linked pages. Over the years I've found it valuable, despite it's limitations, to save everybody's time, when chatting to me directly: I am a very slow email typer ! These pages should be of help to all in contact with me, including journalists and friends helping, both near me in UK, and in far off countries. Many of my friends now providing invaluable help, first made contact with me after seeing the BBC TV South broadcast, or a Newspaper article. Thank you everybody ! :-)

PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH SNOOPY - it may disqualify him. Watch for "close encounters", and please take photos or video that we can all share.

An important message to Americans, from Snoopy the Viking:

Hi Guys ! I've lived so many years in Europe, I hope you don't think that I have "gone native". These clothes were given me by McDonalds, when they gave out clones of me around the World, and they seem very appropriate: Vikings were the first to reach American shores, long before the French or British. I'm looking forward to coming back home to my mother-land of USA, if and when that idiot Robin succeeds in making me a suitable boat. Sorry about his insistence in our boats flying the British Flag: I'm sure he is only doing it to annoy you. I often hear him muttering, 'we should never have worn red, and marched in straight lines'! I hope to see you soon: if so, we will give you plenty of warning !"

Snoopy the Viking on Snoopy Sloop robot boat

Contents of this page:

  • 1. Introduction (above)
  • 2. Latest News on Snoopy's 2014 attempts to cross the Atlantic ...
  • 3. Snoopy's route ... How long will it take ?
  • 4. Robin thanks his friends ...
  • 5. History of Snoopy's attempt to cross the Atlantic ...
    • 5.1 the early years of experiment, from 2008 until 2011 ....
    • 5.2 November 2012 Atlantic Attempt ....
    • 5.3 March 2013 Atlantic Attempts ...
    • 5.4 October 2013 Atlantic Attempt ...
    • 5.5 September 2014 Atlantic Attempt ...
    • 5.6 Aborted November 2014 Atlantic Attempt ...
    • 5.7 Good November 2014 Atlantic Attempt ...
  • 6. Useful links ...
  • 7. a typical visit to Bray Lake ...

2. Latest News on Snoopy's 2014 attempts to cross the Atlantic ...

Snoopy on the rocks Snoopy's 2014 Atlantic Attempt on an Ordnance Survey map

Snoopy is now safely home, from his "crash-landing" near Weymouth, having suffered very little damage. Testing will continue, towards the same boat making another attempt early next year. See Snoopy's Good 2014 Trans-Atlantic Attempt, which explains what happened, why, and what we need to do. This page also includes the full story in pictures, and a video.

Snoopy was launched from near Boscombe Pier, at 1045 on Sunday 30th November. He crash landed on the rocks of Portland, near Weymouth, Tuesday evening, and was rescued by Dick, in the early hours of Wednesday. Well Done Dick ! :-)

Click on the map above to read the detail. Thanks to work by Peter, Dick, and Chris in Canada, our analysis of what went wrong progressed fast, and was first reported in the current Blog, before it surfaced here. e.g. the picture below, showing that Snoopy probably did suffer from Weather Helm - not difficult to fix. Play the 6 minute Video of Snoopy's Good 2014 Atlantic Attempt. Play the new Snoopy's Strong Wind Test video - with Dick in a kayak !

Snoopy's last four hours before the 'crash landing'

What we said earlier is still true ...

Click here for latest SPOT map

We watch MagicSeaweed for FLAT surf, an off-shore wind, and no rain. We also double-check wind direction on Winds Expected. We then launch, at what we hope will be a good time. See "3. Snoopy's route ... How long will it take ?" further below, to see Snoopy's planned route from the UK.

Snoopy also made an attempt at 0830 on Sunday 23rd November, cut short by a software bug which is now fixed. The details are on Snoopy's November 2014 Attempt and there is now a Video. The detail of Snoopy's preperation for this attempt, and correction then testing of the software, is in the current Blog. The Q&A page discusses the effect of a strong tidal flow on robot sailing boats. We have a new Tide Page, as an aid to understanding the best launch time, on a particular day. e.g. three hours ahead of Portsmouth High Water. This is our "Plan A": wait for both FLAT surf and offshore breeze. But could we beat the waves with a "Plan B" ? Are there any crazy surfers out there who might help ? A different launch spot, such as near Sandbanks Beach Cafe , might get around a problem with wind direction, but what if the waves are big ? crazy surfy To appreciate our problem, if we don't have those FLAT surf conditions, simply look at our March 2013 Atlantic Attempts page, and play the March 2013 video. Volunteers with ideas are welcome, so long as you are not putting anyone's lives at risk - but we don't mind you getting wet and cold :-)

click here for the design of Snoop Sloop For those interested, see "Summary of design used in 2012, 2013 and 2014 boats ...", near the front of the Design page ( or click on the picture to the left). While Snoopy's Boat10 waits for the "launch window", we can still experiment with Boat11, or other solutions for 2015. See the new BlogX page.

Snoopy's launch window

Snoopy needs a day with suitable conditions for launch, to sail south to about 15 miles off the coast, before heading west, almost 300 miles. This stretch to south of Ireland, was always going to be tough, so we want close to a week of favourable wind, from the East or North, rather than from West or South. Play the June 2014 video of Snoopy's Robot Boat for 2014 Microtransat for the "big picture". e.g. details of this year's boat and lessons learned.

Snoopy had been ready for an Atlantic attempt for weeks, doing 24/7 reliability testing on Bray Lake, while waiting for a "weather launch window". That Saturday in September, and the following days, could have been the best opportunity we got this year. The lack of wind risked Snoopy not sailing fast enough to overcome the tide, but - if he had got away from the coast - he might have had a following wind for that difficult leg towards Ireland. The early morning start meant a few hours of the tide pulling him westward, away from the Isle of Wight. We launched from Barton-on-Sea again, and the final result was very similar as last year: Snoopy coming home to be repaired and make another attempt before the end of this year. The main difference this year was that the boat did seem to sail correctly, but the wind was too weak for Snoopy to overcome that strong tide. Repairs have been done, and Bray Lake testing done, but the boat is not expected to try the Atlantic again until late November or December. The last test of the repaired boat on Bray Lake is on the Video of Snoopy's Bray Lake Test on 13th September.

In March, the boat had a major rebuild, including modified keel, different rudder, a better waterproof "lunchbox", new rig, and coats of anti-fouling paint. We can justifiably call this "Snoopy Sloop 10", despite it being a rebuild of boat 9, rescued after last year's 2013 attempt. After months of testing on Bray Lake, it now seems last year's failure was due to something as simple as a screw coming loose on the rudder linkage, or some unkown combination of that and sailing "balance" of the boat. We've made minor modifications to the boat, such as moving the mast, and put Loctite on that screw, that came loose, allowing the rudder to shift ! :-)

Sunninghill to Boscombe Pier See our Q&A page. e.g. why launch from Barton-on-Sea ? The blog pages have the nitty-gritty of progress, towards Snoopy's next attempt, and the design page has detail for those interested. The section "a typical visit to Bray Lake ...", on this page, below, may also be of interest. For his last attempt on the Atlantic, see the details: October 2013 Atlantic Attempt, including Dick's story of the rescue. Watch the Video of Snoopy's October 2013 Atlantic Attempt. Snoopy tried the Atlantic twice in March 2013, when we had an excellent "launch window" - but for the surf !

click here for this picture Snoopy has boat10 for his attempt at the Atlantic this year. On the left is the boat on 24/7 test, without additional test equipment such as Pocket PC, Mobius deck camera, and FM transmitter. In fact: just as intended for the Atlantic. Click on the picture for a bigger copy.

We plan to launch him again, from somewhere like west of Boscombe Pier as soon as we can, and the wind and waves allows us. We need a dry weekend day, with Winds expected from the North or East for several days, ideally a week. The launch day should have waves smaller than 1 ft, or FLAT conditions, forecast on magicseaweed.com . You can see where Snoopy is now, by clicking on his SPOT map , updated every hour - on Bray Lake or at home, being repaired or about to travel to the coast ! :-)

Windmill Boat Before making an Atlantic attempt, Snoopy has several weeks of "24/7 tests", to ensure all the boat is reliable. Snoopy sailed over 5,000 miles on Bray Lake in 2012, and has sailed a lot further since then ! If the wind drops to below about 1mph - as often happens at night - Snoopy "goes for a wander". If he gets stuck near the shore, Robin goes over to push Snoopy out again.

While Snoopy prepares for the Atlantic, Robin sometimes "plays" on Bray Lake with possible improvements for boats launched in future years. See the BlogX, Compass and Software pages for experimental work in progress on electronics and software for next year's boat, and related new videos. e.g. Play 17th October 1 minute Video of Snoopy's Cat' (catamaran). Next year's boat ? That's Snoopy on the right, watching Telly, sat on his Windmill Boat :-)

Want to cheer Snoopy on ? Be prepared to sing "Rule Britania!", and bring a flag to wave :-)

3. Snoopy's route ... How long will it take ?

This is all academic if Snoopy only survives a few minutes, hours, or even days, but here is my best guess on how long it might take to travel the 5300 miles to the USA. Maybe he might sail at up to 2 mph - if he gets away from the UK shore. The wind needs to be kind on that difficult stretch west, to 7.5W, south of Ireland. When the wind changes to it's normal direction, from the south-west, it will be VERY slow ! I don't think he would get blown backwards, when trying to sail directly into the wind, but progress would probably average less than 0.1 mph ! I'll keep this section updated, after we launch, and while we are able to track Snoopy, to see how well he progresses, and at what speed, the latest wind predictions, etc.

typical robot boat route from UK to USA

  • Snoopy driven from Sunninghill to launch spot. e.g. Boscombe. Takes about 1.5 hours. Launch within 2 hours of leaving home ? 1.75 hours
  • Launch from UK shore and head about 15 miles south to Snoopy's "Channel" waypoint. 15 hours @ 1 mph ? 9 hours - helped by tide !
  • Channel Waypoint, 15 miles offshore then head 282 miles west, to 7.5W, south of Ireland. 8 days ? (see below)
  • South of Dartmouth and Prawle Point: ~ 95 miles: +4 days if wind is kind ?
  • South of Falmouth and The Lizard: ~ 75 miles: +3 days if wind is kind ?
  • Old Microtransat Start Line at 7.5W then 1240 miles south west, towards the Azores, to catch the trade winds.
  • New Microtransat Start Line is between between 51N 16W and 45N 8W. Snoopy should cross at about 47N 11W after 200 miles. 6 days ?
  • Microtransat Start Line to waypoint east of The Azores is about 1040 miles. 4 weeks ?
  • Azores then 2360 miles west, towards the Microtransat Finish line, at 60W near the Bahamas. 10 weeks ?
  • Microtransat Finish Line at 60W then head towards the USA east coast: maybe 1400 miles. 6 weeks ?
  • USA Landing 7 or 8 months later ? Before 1st April 2015 ? :-)

Snoopy planned route from the UK. As mentioned earlier, Snoopy may only survive a few minutes or hours, but if he DOES reach that first "Channel" waypoint, about 15 miles due south from Barton-on-Sea, this is where he plans to sail next.

His autopilot software has had little change * since January 2013, and is programmed to head for a position on what was the old Microtransat Start Line, at 7.5 degrees West. The intermediate waypoints, south of Prawle Point and The Lizard, are intended to reduce the risk of him "bumping into the shore" due to inaccuracy of keeping his course. * very minor changes were made in late 2014, so that Snoopy could be launched from further west, near Bournemouth.

If he succeeds in eventually crossing the 7.5W line, he should then head south west, to his next waypoint east of The Azores. This should mean he would cross the 2014 Microtransat Start Line at about 47N 11W. In the unlikely event that Snoopy gets this far, Robin will publish more detail on the route ahead: not much risk of that ! :-)

Snoopy with many friends on Bray Lake

4. Robin thanks his friends ...

Snoopy says bye-bye to Bray Lake staff
  • All staff at Bray Lake Watersports for use of the lake, numerous rescue missions and coffees. Here they say bye-bye to Snoopy.
  • local friend John who started Robin off, provided the team name, and has supplied numerous original ideas. See Team-Joker.
  • local friend Dick Bailey, working closely with Robin, who has rescued Snoopy many times, at his own time and expense.
  • Peter Facey , the photographer, for searching for Snoopy in 2012, and for help with mapping and analysis. www.geograph.org.uk
  • the Intelligent Robotics Group at Aberystwyth University, Wales, for organising Microtransat and their own heroic attempts.
  • Yves and the French Teams for first suggesting The Microtransat Challenge years ago, and their repeated heroic attempts.
  • Christophe Thirache in Canada, for help including processing of data for analysis of Snoopy's tracks and GPS simulation.
  • local friend Eric, for supply of Snoopy Sloop 4, and our best videos. See Eric's other videos here.
  • local friend Gary, the Master Car Mechanic , for donating Snoopy Sloops 1 and 2, when Robin started all this in 2008.
  • my old friend Klaus in Germany, who in 2008, suggested use of SPOT to me and Microtransat Teams. Also for his interfacing card.
  • Those in the Press who've gone "beyond the call of duty" including for last year's BBC GPS Bottles project.
  • The nice chap at the National Trust who called back with information about the military bunker where Snoopy landed.
  • The nice lady who is Custodian of the Needles Battery . She has tweeted this, after checking with Robin:
    "Can you help Robin find Robot boat Snoopy? See www.gpss.co.uk/autop.htm if you can help. Last seen near The Needles."
    Robin, despite his name, cannot Tweet. Please take care what you tweet, so as not to encourage others to take risks.
  • Chris at the UKHO ( UK Hydrographic Office ) for detailed tidal data, indicating "human-intervention" with Snoopy in 2012 :-)
  • My long-suffering wife, June, and all those that I've yet to thank here :-)

5. History of Snoopy's attempt to cross the Atlantic ...

5.1 the early years of experiment, from 2008 until 2011 ....

See the introduction in the Experimental Blog Page then detail of ...the early years, from 2008 to 2010 for how we started. Then see near the end of ...from 2011 to 2012
Snoopy-Sloop 9 is the latest robot boat
In brief: we started with small, prototypes, and a Pocket PC - Wind Vane based autopilot. We eventualy reached our design: Picaxe GPS-Only Autopilot, on a 4ft/1.2m long boat.

5.2 November 2012 Atlantic Attempt ....

See Snoopy's 2012 Attempt to cross The Atlantic for the story from 2012, after he was launched on Tuesday 27th November.
Snoopy's 2012 attempt on Tuesday 27th November
In brief: Snoopy sailed straight towards his destination, despite a strong sideways tide. Then he moved AGAINST the tide ! He then landed on the steps of an old military bunker !

5.3 March 2013 Atlantic Attempts ...

See the page March 2013 Atlantic Attempts for the stories, pictures and videos of us fighting the surf ... Snoopy's attempt on 30th March 2013 - yes ! In brief: Snoopy tried, but failed to get away from the beach, in waves that were bigger than on his 2012 attempt. He went home, to sail another day - in calmer conditions ! :-)

5.4 October 2013 Atlantic Attempt ...

See the page October 2013 Atlantic Attempt for the full story. October 2013 Atlantic Attempt In brief: Snoopy launched at 1215pm Friday 11th, wandered, landed about 3am Saturday, was rescued at 8am. Faulty rudder linkage ?

5.5 September 2014 Atlantic Attempt ...

See the September 2014 Atlantic Attempt Page for the full story in pictures, and the 7 minute video.

September 2014 Atlantic Attempt In brief: Snoopy launched at 0850 Saturday 6th in little wind, wandered, landed Sunday morning and rescued. Not enough wind ? Now being prepared for next attempt soon ! :-)

5.6 Aborted November 2014 Atlantic Attempt ...

See the Aborted November 2014 Atlantic Attempt Page for the full story in pictures, and the 5 minute video.

Atlantic Attempt 23 November 2014 map In brief: Snoopy launched at 0830 Sunday 23rd from new spot near Bournemouth: he simply sailed parallel to the beach, due to a software bug, now fixed.

5.7 Good November 2014 Atlantic Attempt ...

See the Good November 2014 Atlantic Attempt Page for the full story in pictures. After re-testing on Bray Lake, Snoopy will try again, on this boat, in early 2015.

Atlantic Attempt 23 November 2014 map In brief: Snoopy launched at 1045 Sunday 30th November from Boscombe Pier. Crash landed on rocks at Portland on Tuesday night. Rescued by Dick almost undamaged.

6. Useful links ...

For Snoopy's next attempt, see magicseaweed.com for when surf will be FLAT, Winds expected for an offshore wind, and Boscombe Webcam for a live picture.
See Snoopy's 2012 Attempt to cross The Atlantic, the March 2013 Attempts in the surf, the October 2013 Attempt, and the latest September 2014 Attempt.
See the Design page for details of Snoopy's 2012, 2013, and 2014 boats, built for the Atlantic Attempts and the Blog pages for progress in tests, repairs, etc.
See the BlogX page for experimental work, including Compass and techical stuff such as Software - and even Snoopy's Paint ! click here for a high res. copy of this picture
of Snoopy's new boat, taken on 21 March 2013.
See The Microtransat Challenge for "competition" details, including rules and the other teams.
See our Q&A (Questions & Answers) page. e.g. Why not launch Snoopy from a boat ? Do you understand the tide ?
See Snoopy's Windmill boat and play the Windmill Boat video - for what may appear in later years ? :-)
See Robin's Snoopy Sloop robot boat - progress in 2011 and 2012 for detail removed from this front page.
See Robin's Snoopy Sloop robot boat - the early years, from 2008 to 2010 for how we started.
See Robin's old "on water" page - not updated for over 14 years - until now, with detail of the 1998 round-the-World race :-)
See The Search for Snoopy in his 2012 Robot Boat for more information such as the map showing coverage of searches done in 2012.
See The 2012 Microtransat Map for Snoopy and the French. This SPOT Track is from the Mail Online. This Map before deletion.
See www.marinetraffic.com for how busy the shipping lanes are. and SPOT communications coverage map.
See UK Winds , Sailflow Winds , Met Office Rain & Wind, World Sea conditions , Temperatures and Sunshine.
See Bournmouth live web-cam for the weather and size of waves, just a few miles west of Barton-on-Sea.
See Jasper Coppings article in the Sunday Telegraph the Sunday before the 2012 launch.
Play the video of Snoopy's launch on BBC TV News , Robin getting wet, then our family video of Snoopy's launch with reporters too :-)
Play our 2012 Snoopy-Sloop history video. The underwater TV recce/winch boat used in 2009 is in the 5 minute "Rescue of Snoopy" video
Play the 3 minute Robot Boat Sounds: past, present and future video September 2012 Text-To-Speech and video of Snoopy Sloop for 2013.
Play the 15 minute Snoopy-Sloop 2013 video with latest boat, the 2012 attempt, all boats since 2008 - or the 5 minute version here :-)
Play the 7 minute utube video of Snoopy's Atlantic Attempt on 23rd March .
Play the 7 minute utube video of Snoopy's Atlantic Attempt on 30th March .
Play the 2 minute video of Snoopy Sloop 9 in June 2013 on Bray Lake
Play the 10 minute Video of Snoopy's October 2013 Atlantic Attempt.
Play the 14 minute January 2014 Video of a Bray Lake test, with the new deck camera.
Play the new June 2014 video of Snoopy's Robot Boat for 2014 Microtransat for the big picture. e.g. details of this year's boat and lessons learned.

Ben, Snoopy and Robin

What the Papers say ... Don't believe all you read in the papers :-)

Read Jasper Coppings article in the Sunday Telegraph the Sunday before launch.
Read BBC News report of "crash landing" here or Nice pictures and amusing words in The Mail Online here :-)
The news about Snoopy even got as far as New Zealand, in the Wellington,NZ Dom-Post article :-)
First paper: Snoopy prepared for self-navigating Atlantic voyage by Paul Miles in Maidenhead Advertiser on 5th September 2012.
Journalists may have started with our Press Release and video, but editors need to edit : the meaning may not remain the same :-)
Robin says to Tim Robinson of BBC Radio Solent , "This is the guy who lost one of my GPS bottles last year !" :-)
Higher resolution pictures for the Press ... Snoopy, Mug, Boat, Robin, BenTV, Launch, TimRobin, Cat, NewBoat

7. a typical visit to Bray Lake ...

Robin videos Snoopy's return Robin has added this section, which may be of interest to journalists, who want to "tag along" to get some photos or video. It may also be of help to dog-walkers, who probably wonder why that strange man, seems to be talking to himself, and listening to several radios on the roof of his car.

Snoopy has started making regular visits to Bray Lake again, to prepare him for his next attempt on the Atlantic, expected before Christmas. Bray Lake is near Maidenhead, not far from the M4 motorway junction, and about 20 minutes drive from Robn's home in Sunninghill. You can find out more by looking at the bottom of the Press Release, or simply visit www.braylake.com.

Maidenhead Sailing Club webcam Robin normally avoids days when it is raining, or when there is no wind at all. He therefore checks web sites like the Met Office, RainToday, and the Maidenhead Sailing Club web cam.

One of the boats are normally ready, and are quickly loaded into the back of Robin's rusty old Mercedes E240 estate car, which was once silver, before discoloured by rust and mud. Important junk added to the car include wellies (the waders are reserved for sea launches), a cheap transistor radio - to pick up speech from Snoopy's computer, a Pocket PC based GPS to record a plot of Snoopy's path on the lake, and - maybe most important of all - Robin's camcorder - so he can record everything, rather than rely on his flakey memory.

GPS plot near Base at Bray Lake Most people park on the right, just before the club house, but Robin has the combination to the barrier, so parks his car near the "Base", a few yards past the club house. Snoopy is usually launched within 5 minutes of Robin arriving. First Robin switches on the Pocket PC, since it takes a minute or two to "warm up" and start recording GPS data. He puts on his wellies, and leans Snoopy against a post, with a tranny radio switched on to pick up the computer's speech. The computer is switched on, and within a few minutes it is speaking and ready to launch.

Robin about to launch Snoopy Robin then uses his camcorder to shoot less than a minutes video, saying things like the date, any changes to Snoopy's boat, and showing what the wind strength and direction was.

Snoopy sailing in a good wind Snoopy is then dropped in the water, and soon after, Robin shoots video. A typical video might last an hour or more, and occasionally a few small clips might be used in edited videos made public. However, the main purpose of Robin's video, is to add yet another unedited video DVD to his collection at home. It provides a useful record of what happened.

Snoopy usually sails around the "Bray Lake Test" within an hour, and possibly as quickly as 20 minutes. This usually depends on the wind direction: the fastest trips are usually with a gentle breeze of 5 to 10 mph from the north-east, which means Snoopy does not need to tack towards a waypoint directly upwind. If the wind is particularly "unkind", Snoopy's trip might take much longer than an hour: the slow bit is always where he needs to sail upwind.

Snoopy is rescued He will normally return accurately to his Base, where he started, but occasionally he might end up stuck in reeds on the far bank, tangled in trees on the island, or snagged on the mooring for a floating jetty. That's when Robin calls in the "Rescue Team" from the club house, and pops another 5 into their drinks kitty :-)

If Snoopy has been left over at Bray Lake for 24/7 reliability tests, he will have his SPOT tracker, which may not always be with him, if it is being worked upon. Robin will occasionally go over to visually check Snoopy, or push him out again, if he has drifted into the bank due to the wind having dropped overnight.

Snoopy's Bray Lake Test ... sail 530 metres automatically, through 5 waypoints ...


Bray Lake used for testing of the robot boats


GPS plot of a Bray Lake Test in March 2014: solving the zig-zag sailing, giving a straighter and faster path ...

GPS plot of recent Bray Lake Test by robot boat 9

Snoopy Sailing

from the earlier introduction at the top of this page ...

Simple rules for this robot boat race: get past 60W, off Bahamas; wind power only; autonomous (GPS self guidance); must report position (GPS/Satcomms). See The Microtransat Challenge.

The Welsh Team tried in 2010 and the boat sailed a few days before it was lost. The old track of the boat is here.

The French Team made an attempt in 2011 and it sailed for a few days in heavy seas before a sail broke. They recovered the boat and tried again in 2012.

For my business partners who visit these pages... OK - I confess! I DO spend much of my time on this hobby project :-)

Do not be confused by the picture of Snoopy sailing the bottle: that was from the GPS bottles in the sea projects :-)

the French ENSTA-Bretagne boat, braving the Atlantic waves !

robot boat from the French Team, braving the Atlantic waves !

Snoopy's boat is on 24/7 test while waiting for his "launch window" to make this year's 2014 Atlantic attempt. That's Robin sat on the bank. This was filmed by experimental boat 6

Snoopy Corner

Snoopy got his Mobius video camera at Christmas. Play the June 2014 video or click on the picture below.

click here for 26 minute video of Snoopy on Bray Lake

Snoopy's preparation in 2012 for the Atlantic crossing - the first taste of salt water ! ...

boat 6 first test in sea

See Robin's Snoopy Sloop robot boat - progress in 2011 and 2012 for an earlier copy of this front page, with more detail and links.

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© 1991-2014 Robin Lovelock. Please credit www.gpss.co.uk if you use material from any of these pages. Thankyou.