UBC's lost Ada the 'Sailbot' found floating off Florida

Vancouver Sun. By Kevin Griffin.

Ada the robotic sailboat was lost, but now is found and heading back home to the University of B.C.

Ada is a 5.5-metre keel sailboat — or Sailbot — designed to cross the Atlantic Ocean without any human crew or help. It was launched Aug. 24, 2016 from Newfoundland and was supposed to sail the 3,200 km. across the Atlantic to Ireland.

But it never got there.

On Nov. 14, 2016 the engineering team at UBC lost contact with Ada when it was close to the Azores, west of Portugal.

Then nothing — until last Friday, when the U.S. research ship Neil Armstrong from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute found Ada off the coast of Florida, a long, long way from its last reported location. Ada was battered, missing its sail and rigging — but still afloat.

Kristoffer Vik Hansen was part of the UBC engineering team that designed and built Ada over a period of three years. He said it was a “pretty amazing feeling” to hear that Ada had been found.

Vik Hansen, who graduated from integrated engineering in 2015, said UBC is one of the world leaders in autonomous sailing vessels. UBC is a three-time winner of  the International Robotic Sailing Regatta

Setting a goal of crossing the Atlantic was a challenge for the students to take autonomous sailing to the next level.

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