The autonomous electric vessel “Mahi Two” crosses the Atlantic Ocean
An all-electric boat crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The ‘Mahi Two’ made the trip unmanned but powered by a Torqeedo electric motor and solar power. They were directed from land through storms and the high seas.
The Mahi Two team claims it is the first autonomous solar-electric vessel to successfully cross the Atlantic Ocean. The ship left the Spanish coast in September 2021 and reached the island of Martinique in the French West Indies six months later.
On land, Pieter-Jan Note had followed the small boat between high waves, sailing further and further. “It was like leaving your child alone in the ocean,” recalls the Belgian engineer. He and the team had done everything to make their four-meter boat robust and self-sufficient, reports Torqeedo.
The German company provided a Torqeedo Cruise 2.0 Pod electric motor that “goes on and on,” as Note discovered. On board were also two 24 V batteries for which Torqeedo usually works with BMW. This time, the batteries were constantly recharged by Solbian solar panels.
In addition, the engineers had ensured that the boat could right itself in heavy swells. Cameras, sensors, satellite connectivity and an on-board computer kept the Mahi Two upright for no less than 4,300 nautical miles, or almost 8,000 kilometres. The voyage lasted six months since the ship sailed at speeds of between five and nine knots, or 10 to 15 km/h.
The Mahi Two has a composite hull. It contains steering, communication, hardware integration, navigation and onboard energy management – all handled by USV software developed by Mahi. The boat communicates via an onboard satellite modem, GPS and an automatic identification system. This helped Mahi’s crew receive data updates every fifteen minutes – location, speed, solar energy generated and some sensor data. Fans of the project could also follow the ship in real time on the website.
Only once was there a complete communication breakdown. Amid fears the Mahi Two had been lost, it surfaced at its destination in Martinique two months later. The team says they were still analyzing what happened between the communication failure and the successful landing. The USV captured 2.4 terabytes of data that will be downloaded for other researchers to use.
Still, for the crew ashore, it’s a huge success. The team has been working for years and lost two boats on the high seas. Now the USV and the engine have made the difference. “The availability of low-cost, high-performance on-board systems made the project more feasible,” says Note, “and, of course, you need a reliable electric motor and water-resistant system. salt that can ignite and ignite.”
Torqeedo supported the project from the start with equipment and know-how.
Part of the Mahi project team has now created a MAHI company to bring maritime autonomy solutions to market. They develop software and hardware products that enable USVs to accurately detect obstacles and other vessels and avoid collisions in accordance with international regulations.