Autonomous Inflatable Canoe

With the summer months nearly upon us, many are dreaming of warm afternoons spent floating on a quiet lake. Unless you’re [Kolins] anyway. Apparently his idea of a good time is controlling a full-sized inflatable canoe not from onboard with a pair of oars, but from the shore with a RC transmitter.

The linkage design allows the motor to be adjusted vertically.

Of course, as the video after the break shows, just because the canoe is powered by a remotely operated electric trolling motor doesn’t mean it can’t still carry human occupants. In fact, with the addition of a Matek F405-Wing flight controller running the rover variant of ArduPilot, the boat can even take you on a little tour of the lake while you kick back and relax.

We like that this project took the path of least resistance wherever possible. Rather than trying to spin up his own custom propulsion unit, and inevitably dealing with the challenge of waterproofing it, [Kolins] built his system around a commercial trolling motor. A clever servo mechanism physically turns the motor in much the same way a human operator would, while the speed is controlled with a suitably beefy ESC from Traxxas placed between the motor and its lead-acid battery.

It doesn’t look like there’s been any permanent mechanical or electrical changes made to the motor, which makes the whole thing a lot easier to replicate. We’ve talked in the past about the relative rarity of low-cost robotic watercraft, so a “bolt-on” propulsion module like this that can turn a cheap inflatable boat into an autonomous platform for research and experimentation is very interesting.

Thanks to [Neolker] for the tip.

6 thoughts on “Autonomous Inflatable Canoe

  1. Hi. I am builder of this boat. You are right, this was all RC only. Ardurover is now installed and running, but autonomous navigation is not working yet. I need to tune PID and other parameters. Looking into laptop screen while on the boat, which is turning wildly left and right is causing sea sickness. Doing it from shore is possible, but RC and telemetry range is very poor. I need to go trough documentation on tuning parameters and tune it. Last time I was struggling with connection issues and was running out of daylight.

    1. Hi Kolins,
      You come up with some amazing projects sir. I am keenly interested in your stepper motor antenna tracker which you have on YouTube. Is there any chance we can collaborate on that project to try and move it forward? If not, are you ok with me making an attempt at getting it up and running using your hardware design?

      Please let me know. I can be reached at : team scream at gmail dot com

      If nothing else, I would like to ask you a few questions.

      Bravo sir. You are indeed a creative thinker.

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