Over the past few months we have been making great progress with 'Les Plastivores', our innovative, autonomous boats which are designed to aid environmental protection.
The last six weeks in particular have seen our latest prototype - named Hector - ripen to maturity. Compared to the previous prototype, the hull of the boat is now inflatable and in several pieces; providing more buoyancy and protection to the boat and surroundings, while also making it easier to transport.
The propulsion and steering system has also been changed from a single propeller and rudder to two fixed electric turbines, reducing the amount of power required to propel the boat, while also making the steering mechanism more efficient.
Alongside this, our Plastivore now has a high definition, waterproof camera, which can be placed underwater to observe the wildlife and seabed; the footage is streamed back live to the control station.
The results from our tests in both swimming pools and on open sea have been conclusive and encouraging; as a result, we have been able to confirm a mothership for our expedition to the Atlantic gyre this summer - a steel sailing ship named 'Le Paladin'!
We joined her skipper Thomas back in April, alongside fellow crew members Julien and Tristan, to sail the boat from Brittany in France to Scotland. The three week trip gave us plenty of time to test our Plastivore on the open sea, and you had read more about the trip on Thomas' blog here.
You can also view the pictures from the trip on our official instagram account.
Our objective of the trip was to test the robustness of the Plastivore, as well as its ergonomics for the stages of launching, returning to and storage inside the sailboat.
The result is very positive; we didn't have any mechanical or structural problems and the electric turbines worked very well, even in 15 knots of wind speed in rough, open water.
We have therefore created a successful prototype meeting the 4 criteria we had set ourselves: Economical, Simple, Reliable and Robust.
We are now currently building a second Plastivore and continuing to develop the programming and software in preparation for our departure to Iceland in July.
Florian and Thomas