Faculty Research at Morehead State University

Document Type


Publication Date



Autonomous sailboats have demonstrated that a robot could potentially perform long-term ocean monitoring and traveling. However, self-operating sailboats in the past had sails, which could lead to issues caused by tipping and heeling too much, and were not fully solar powered, which leads to short power endurance issues. Energy efficient and low cost autonomous robotic unmanned surface vehicle, named MARCo (Marine Autonomous Robotic Communicator), was programmed, developed and tested throughout the year 2018 in a public, co-educational university in Morehead, Kentucky. An off-grid solar system, comprised of 3x 20-Watt 12-Volt panels and a 12-Volt charge controller, was designed, constructed, and installed on a 6ft surfboard to make it solar powered and increase power-endurance with the help of a power management algorithm written in Python. The boat is based on Raspberry Pi, a set of navigation sensors, and a ROCKBlock Iridium Modem. The project has been successful in building a solar-powered, sail-less, autonomous unmanned surface vehicle. The boat was tested in diverse marine environments (Eagle Lake, KY and an indoor pool) and the results showing the overall performance of our boat durability and energy consumption is presented. Journal



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.