Toy boat to set sail on Atlantic voyage

Inventor makes unmanned autonomous robot vessel to take on 6,000-mile journey.
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A toy boat steered by GPS and fuelled by wind and solar power is to set sail on an epic journey across the Atlantic Ocean this weekend.

The four-foot ship will set off from Barton-On-Sea in Hampshire this Saturday, with a dream of reaching American shores 6,000 miles away.

The vessel is autonomous and unmanned, but for a toy figurine of Snoopy – lending the boat its name, ‘Snoopy Sloop’.

It's been created by retired NATO scientist Robin Lovelock, for less than £450, to take on the Microtransat Challenge – a transatlantic race for fully autonomous sailing boats, which started in 2006.

Never successfully completed, the challenge has been attempted three times since 2010, with all of them failing.

Snoopy Sloop has already sailed 5,000-miles in the still waters of Bray Lake near Windsor. The Atlantic journey is expected to take six months. The boat will head down the English Channel before sailing towards the Azores in the North Atlantic Ocean, then towards the Bahamas with the destination of Plymouth in Massachusetts.

Lovelock, who earned his stripes developing military computer systems for NATO, said: “I got hooked about four years ago. I didn’t even play with model boats when I was a boy. I sometimes tinker on the boat in the lounge, but am usually banished to the games room by my wife.”

Lovelock said the inclusion of the Snoopy figurine was to make fun of other challengers who take the competition ‘far too seriously’.

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