Posted by: OlinRoboticSailing | March 15, 2015

Spring Break Hackathon!

This spring break the team is working hard on our latest project – an automated Sunfish named Enterprise who will sail across Massachusetts Harbor! As the latest and largest push towards our trans-Atlantic goal, we are extremely excited to see how much we can get done in such a short time. 

During the break teammates from every subteam will be implementing the plans we already in place. There will be stern and forecastles routed and laid-up, actuators tested, electronics wired, and the system generally put to its first full test. In short, a lot of work is coming together and we want to share it all with you. Keep a weather eye on our twitter @olinroboticsailing and facebook page (Olin Robotic Sailing) as we post our updates. It’s going to be quite the ride!

As our first update: Claire, Liani, and Amanda spent the day at Home Depot and West Marine. As you can see, we bought some pink foam for routing our fore and stern castles, and many blocks, hatches, and sliding tracks for the sail system. It turns out people give you strange looks when you walk around Home Depot with lots of foam on your head. If they only knew what cool things it will become!

Liani and Amanda collect the pink foam with Claire as t

Liani and Amanda collect the pink foam with Claire as the photographer. 

Posted by: OlinRoboticSailing | February 5, 2015

New Documentation

We have officially switched our methods of documentation. Previously, we have had some discrepancies in this field and thus transitions between years and captains have been difficult. However, we have officially decided to change to a type of documentation called QPRI. This documentation style was developed by previous ORS Captain Dante Santos, and consists of a single document in which an area of interest or a problem is explained, what that plan of work is for it, how that work is going, and, finally, what the results are at the end. Hopefully, this change will help our team remain organised and up to date on intra-team progress.
This also means that there will be more posts on this blog about said progress, so keep an eye out for that.

Posted by: OlinRoboticSailing | December 4, 2014

Maker Faire

As was mentioned previously, our team had the opportunity to present at MIT’s Mini Maker Faire. A team led by Raagini Rameshwar, our Fundraising coordinator, put the boat on display and had a wonderful time. We hoped to garner external interest in robotic sailing and Olin College, and were met with enthusiasm: we were christened the “coolest project at MakerFaire.”
Other Makers were excited that we bring robotics to sailing, a rare combination. People interested in robotics thought it was cool that we had a robot that sails, and people interested in sailing thought it was cool that we were sailing using a robot. There was a crowd surrounding us from set-up to take down.
We had a lot of excited reactions and ideas spawned from our presentation, such as month-long research trips, or sabbaticals for non-sailors. We are always looking for new applications of our work, so if you have any cool ideas please let us know!
Look to see us at future events. We will keep you posted!

Posted by: OlinRoboticSailing | November 6, 2014

On the Water

Over this semester, we have been trying hard to make sure that we get on-the-water testing in. Actually going out on the water is extremely important because it not only keeps everyone interested in the project by showing results, but also teaches us about how to get our robot to sail in the manner that we want it to.

We originally had some groups go out on regular sailboats to learn the basic mechanics of sailing, before Damn Yankee! was completed.


Now that Damn Yankee! is at least water-safe, we are able to take it out on the water as well. On Tuesday the team took Damn Yankee! testing for the first time! She sailed beautifully and we are so proud of our mechanical team. She sails entirely straight even with the rudder and sails fixed in place.

d_yankee_testing_1Hopefully there will be many more on-the-water testing pictures to come. In the meantime, there should be some videos from testing posted on our Youtube channel.


Posted by: OlinRoboticSailing | November 6, 2014


Most of the updates to the website have been made, so now it should be business as usual. There will be a plethora of blog posts in the next short while of all the blog posts that have not been published while the website was being fixed.
Thank you for your patience!

Posted by: OlinRoboticSailing | October 9, 2014

Under Construction

You may have noticed that this website has been changing in appearance recently. That is because we are updating it to reflect our new direction! As such, there will probably be some things which look/act a little oddly in the next few weeks. Some pages that currently exist will stop existing, and some new ones will be added. If there are any problems, please feel free to comment on this post to let us know.

Posted by: OlinRoboticSailing | October 2, 2014

Back in Business

After a nice, relaxing summer, our team has reconvened with new members and a new purpose. We have decided that we are no longer affiliated with the Sailbot Competition, and instead are pursuing the idea of a trans-Atlantic robotic sailboat more thoroughly. If you are interested in learning more  we will be attending the MIT Mini Maker Faire this coming Saturday October 4th, and we invite anyone in the area to come and see our new boat Damn Yankee!, and talk with members of our team.
More updates will come as progress continues.

Posted by: OlinRoboticSailing | May 18, 2014

Final Announcement: Spring ’14

Over the past two semesters, Olin Robotic Sailing has worked to build our latest boat, Damn Yankee! Due to the support of our wonderful sponsors, we were able to make this boat a reality!

Our boat this year was designed for robustness, simplicity, and repeatability. Damn Yankee! is a meter long boat modeled off of Frank Russell’s Gothic 10R design. Our hull has a carbon fiber outer shell and a core of CNC machined foam and hard wood. The keel has a maple spine and a bulb filled with lead shot and pourable polymer, all covered in carbon fiber. Our fabrication process allows for repeatability, allowing faster design iterations, leading to a better end design.

This is the first year that we’ve made our own sails. The design we choose is a Marconi Rig, with the large mainsail and the small jib sail independently actuated for greater control and maneuverability.

Our electrical system has been redesigned to easily integrate any future additions to the sensor network. We are using the National Instruments’ new myRio as our processor and Dynamixel motors to actuate the boat. Our sensor system includes a Hemisphere GNS V102 GPS system, and an encoded wind vane to give us wind direction.

This year, the software system was completely rewritten. It has more modular architecture that can be easily modified for future changes in overall system design. This will also allow for future implementation of programming languages that are better for specific tasks.

All of these subsystem innovations have allowed us to design and build a robotic sailboat that will serve as a robust testing platform for robotic sailing research moving forward.

Given all of the progress that we’ve made this year, we are very proud to announce Damn Yankee! as the newest member to our fleet. However, we are not going to compete in the International Robotic Sailing Competition this year. Our team came to the conclusion that we wanted to focus on producing a quality product rather than rushing to finish something adequate. We are very proud of all of the hard work we put into developing this boat, and we will continue to develop and test it over the course of next year. Keep an eye out for an announcement from us about Damn Yankee! testing! She’ll be beautiful on the water.

Thank you for your interest and support.

Posted by: OlinRoboticSailing | May 13, 2014

The Existence of a Boat

As you may have noticed, this blog has not been updated in some time. The reason for this is Finals and the general conundrum that comes with the end of the year. However, there is some very good news on the Robotic Sailing front. Namely: we have a boat!


The first unveiling of this boat took place at Olin College’s Expo presentation on May 12.

As you can see, the sails and keel are attached. The hull has not yet been fully polished, but is expected to be finished by the end of the year, and the rudder is currently in production. The electronics package is finished, however we have to widen the cavity in the hull in order to finish installation. The transmission has been installed, and the code has been extensively run on our testing rig to determine any problems with it. So far, it seems to be working well.

We are hoping to take Damn Yankee! out to Lake Waban at least once before the end of the year, to test on the water and make sure that all of our systems integrate in the way we expect them to, but otherwise we have completed our goal for the year. We have a new boat, and isn’t she a beauty?



There will be one more announcement regarding the team before the end of the year, so stay tuned!

Posted by: OlinRoboticSailing | April 2, 2014

The Big Crunch

As everyone recently realized, we are rapidly approaching the end of the semester–which means that we need to have a fully functioning boat VERY soon.

Fortunately, we are well on our way to that point. In the last couple weeks, we have obtained a functional transmission, completed code that is being tested on a small retro-fitted RC boat, and a finished set of prototype sails. The keel and rudder are both also almost finished, and, barring a machining error, will be completed within the week.

So, we should have a lovely prototype of Damn Yankee that we can take out to Lake Waban and test by April 13th.

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