Mark I Aerosonde is the first robotic aircraft to cross the North
Atlantic Ocean. It flew ~2000 miles from St. John's, Newfoundland
to the Outer Hebrides of Scotland in roughly 26 hours. Aerosonde
was a joint project between the Insitu Group (Australia) and the
University of Washington. It was funded by a grant from the US Office
of Naval Research and is currently manufactured by Aerosonde
Robotic Aircraft in Australia and Aerosonde North America.
The Mark I
Aerosonde airframe used in the crossing has a 9-foot wingspan, weighed
29 pounds and was powered by a one-cylinder 20cc engine. The payload,
weighing 2 pounds included computers, a communications radio, a
GPS satellite guidance system and meteorological instruments. During
its North Atlantic crossing it flew a pre-determined flight plan
and burned less than 2 gallons of fuel.
validated the ability of a UAV operating over long distances in
remote locations. The Aerosonde was initially developed for meteorological
reconnaissance, and is now being used for a wide range of commercial
and military applications.