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TU Delft Solar Boat Team Puts Ideas to Action with mangOH Red

by Ashish Syal, Chief Engineer
It would be difficult to name an industry that the Internet of Things (IoT) has not permeated. From agriculture to asset-tracking to retail connectivity, the IoT is creating efficiencies and improving revenue for businesses across the board. The mangOH® open source hardware platform provides an easy place to design and deploy prototypes for industrial IoT applications across multiple market segments. mangOH’s proven ability to develop industrial grade applications is enabling people around the world, including corporate developers and product managers, to use IoT technology to find solutions to global problems. But it isn’t only the business world that’s harnessing the power of the IoT – IoT enthusiasts and university students are also choosing mangOH to build their industrial grade applications.

For a group of students at Delft University of Technology, a university near the western coast of the Netherlands, the impact of maritime traffic on climate change hits close to home. They turned to mangOH when they needed to add reliable, real-time tracking and data collection to their solar boat project. The small size and feature-rich industrial grade platform was a clear winner for the TU Delft Solar Boat Team.

Meet the Team

Since 2006, students at the Delft University of Technology have been working to reduce energy consumption and pollution from ships by exploring solar energy options. According to Esmee Huijten, an engineer within the TU Delft Solar Boat Team, the maritime sector is responsible for a large part of the air pollution in the world; the 16 largest ships on earth produce as much pollution as all the cars in the world.

Every year, the TU Delft Solar Boat Team welcomes a new group of students, all taking a year-long departure from their degrees to work full-time on building a completely new solar boat. The 2018 team, run entirely by students from 9 different faculties, is building a boat to compete in the Solar Sport One competition consisting of five races in the Netherlands and Monaco between May and July 2018.

The Future of Industrial IoT Applications Using Open Source Hardware

The Next Step in Maritime Innovation 

The team’s Solar Boat is a futuristic looking, single-passenger craft that sits atop two hydrofoils. Using hydrofoils to lift the boat’s hull out of the water decreases water resistance, allowing the boat to move quickly and easily, while decreasing energy consumption – the Solar Boat sails with an average of 30 kilometers per hour while using the same amount of energy that a kettle uses to boil water. They have even reached speeds of 55 kilometers per hour, which is a World Record for Solar Boats.

The TU Delft Solar Boat isn’t just solar powered; thanks to the IoT, it’s also smart. In addition to finding ways to save energy and run entirely on solar power, the boat relays information back to the team during test runs and races, such as location and motor data collected and sent using the boat’s telemetry system. The information gathered by the telemetry system plays a key role in setting race strategy and ensuring that the boat maintains its schedule during long runs. 

It’s also vital that the off-board team be able to quickly locate the boat and its captain for safety reasons. In the event of an emergency, such as mechanical issues with the boat or unexpected rough weather, it’s imperative that the off-board team have up-to-date information and the ability to pinpoint the boat’s exact location.  The telemetry system also sends crucial safety data about the motor and all other electric components of the boat, and the state of charge of the battery, which enables the team to sail safely, and to determine how much energy they have left. For example, the 2017 team had hoped to test their Solar Boat by crossing the English Channel, which would have put the relatively small Solar Boat in the same busy waters as much larger shipping vessels. Although the crossing was eventually called off due to weather concerns, accurate data would have been critical for such a challenging journey.

Turning Ideas into Action with mangOH Red

To gather information from the 2018 Solar Boat, including data about the motor and all other electric components of the boat, a large cable connects all of the boat’s electrical components and transfers the data to a central location onboard. That’s where the telemetry system comes in. Using a 4G connection, the telemetry system receives the data and sends it back to a database. The TU Delft Solar Boat Team can then view the route and location of the boat from a user-friendly online interface. 

To send and receive all of this data, the TU Delft Solar Boat’s telemetry system was built in part using the Sierra Wireless mangOH Red platform, with a mangOH Red board, antenna and WP7502 module, plus a separate CAN bus IoT module. The CAN bus IoT module collects telemetry data from the boat, which is processed and logged by the Legato application on the WP7502. Legato sends the data to the cloud, where the TU Delft Solar Boat Team can easily access it via web application. 

After learning about mangOH Red online, the TU Delft Solar Boat Team chose the platform for its flexibility and usability, and they were able to quickly develop and deploy a reliable telemetry system. With its industrial-grade, integrated components in an easy-to-use package, mangOH Red’s IoT connector supports the easy addition of highly reliable add-on features like CAN bus.

Smaller than a credit card and using industrial grade components, mangOH Red is the most feature-rich, lowest power, open source enablement platform for cellular applications on the market. It delivers 90% of a prototype out-of-the-box, so developers can easily work with any wired, wireless or sensor technology based on their unique IoT use case, making it simpler and more cost-effective to turn ideas into prototypes and prototypes into products.

The easy-to-use mangOH Red platform enables both new and experienced innovators to experiment with fresh ideas and develop the next generation of energy-efficient solutions. We’re proud to be a part of the TU Delft Solar Boat Team’s efforts to prove the value and capabilities of solar energy. To learn more about mangOH, visit mangoh.io for tutorials, step-by-step instructions and to start building your IoT application.