World Autonomous Navigation Challenge

Patent autonomous technology - the world's most advanced solar powered robot




Award winning autonomous ship project 2016


CLEAN ENERGY AWARD - In 2016 the SolarNavigator design won a clean energy award. Since 2013 the technology has been licensed to Bluebird Marine Systems for their Bluefish experiments and then in 2015 for SeaVax ocean cleaning technology development - all of which is based on the SolarNavigator platform. In 2017, the Cleaner Oceans Foundation is hoping to collaborate with other European partners to further develop the robotics and satellite communications that they say will refine anti ocean waste operations.


UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT - We see autonomy as the solution to many shipping issues, such as safety, course keeping and journey management. Robot boats are in their infancy. In other business arenas such as commercial airliners and space exploration, automation is at a high level for exactly the reasons identified above. 


The SolarNavigator project received a boost, having upgraded the design to include true autonomy for improved course keeping, in so doing attracting the interest of academics and the electronics industry keen to develop the technology for commercial applications - for the benefit of fleet operators. How that will work may not be immediately obvious.



In May of 2005 Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of (air) Pollution From Ships (MARPOL) came into force.  This imposes a duty on ship operators (including navies) to reduce sulphur and nitrogen oxides from burnt fuel. The simplest way to do this is to reduce fuel consumption, which can be with more efficient engines, better hull design, cleaner burning fuel, steering a shorter course - and other methods under investigation. Another way to clean up marine transport is to work towards eliminating internal combustion engines in favour of solar power. We came to that conclusion in 1995. The concept that we are developing is suitable for electrically propelled oil tankers, that run on energy from nature - so no exhaust emission at all.

SolarNavigator autonomous robot boat, front elevation

End elevation of the SNAV prototype robot ship © 2013


SolarNavigator autonomous robot boat, plan view

Plan elevation of the SNAV prototype robot ship © 2013

(not to scale)



In 1995 the first SolarNavigator tank test model was displayed at the Earls Court boat show in London into 1995/6. Many well wishing visitors to the stand doubted the theory that a solar powered boat could circumnavigate the globe.


On the 4th of May 2012 theory became fact when Raphael Domjan's team and the superb EV, the Turanor Planetsolar mounted a successful expedition, thanks to generous sponsorship by Immosolar, leaders in the field of solar energy management, Candido Swiss watches and others - setting a world solar powered circumnavigation record of 585 days (actually 571 days allowing for repairs).


AIS tells port authorities and other ships so equipped who and where they are, or more correctly, tells the operators. Now imagine a ship that steers itself and is COLREGs compliant. Super-AIS with a CAS that is autonomous as a new layer of SOLAS approved safety for ships.


We need to attract additional funding for our collaborative research. We are working with academics and Industry captains looking to develop products for a cleaner tomorrow. Conventional sponsorship is also invited in return for media coverage, for the event stage of the project. 


If you are interested in working with our group please get in touch today. We are especially keen to work with fleet operators looking to reduce tanker oil consumption. See the NYK Super Eco concept ship below saving an estimated 70% of CO2 using sails. The concept we are looking to develop offers a significant % CO2 reduction.


Please have a look at the advantages that our autonomous package holds for the future of sea transport.



Super green eco ship concept from NYK


Ships provide the transit of goods that keep the world ticking. Thought leaders like those who penned the ship above should be given more than just a regulatory shove. Real grants should be given to those who might carry out the research to make the above possible. Not just universities, but those who have shown a willingness and aptitude to strive for that which others only dream of.





With any ship the most important consideration is the hull design. The requirement to increase hull efficiency for fuel savings, provides marine architects with new challenges. The hull design we are developing suggests significant drag reduction and smoother passages - hence better sea-keeping qualities. Converting an existing platform will be more expensive than a new build.


We have tested 5 hull designs to date, improving on each one. Two SWATH designs, two catamarans and a trimaran. The 6th design is not strictly speaking a trimaran though it has three hulls; so we're billing it as a hybrid trimaran. An active SWASH hull design like this has not been built to date (as far as we are aware).


The other major challenge is panel design. How to increase panel area and keep as much of it facing the sun when the sun moves relative to the route, and of course keep the boat stable in all seas. We have designed for at least 3 kilowatts per ton of vessel mass and can comfortably achieve that - for the ideal ZCC platform.


Not to detract from the incredible achievements of the PlanetSolar team, but the SolarNavigator project aims to improve on the 585 day record (May 2012), slashing that to 280 days. Solarnavigator has more than twice the power to weight ratio of the current record holder. There is much work to be done on hull and propulsion design if solar power is ever to be used to ferry cargo around the high seas economically.


This project represents a unique opportunity for any global company, either with eco friendly ambitions, or just looking to save fuel costs and improve fleet management. If this is of interest to you please let Max Energy Limited know using the contact details below.



  Mascot 1/200th SNAV model sitting on top of the Bluefish 1/20th jig


Mascot 1/200th SNAV model sitting on top of the 'Bluefish' 1/20th project development jig. These model hulls are doing the groundwork for eco ships of the future.



Development from CAD drawings, testing fit in paper templates


'Bluefish' 1/20th project development using the Jig, forward helm/cabins computer drawing development test fit in paper, prior to cutting/forming aluminium sections. August 18 2013.



Email: Brian at Max Energy Ltd:  

Email Max Energy Limited

Phone UK: + 44 (0) 1323 831727    +44 (0) 7842 607865

Max Energy Limited in association with Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd

Solar House, BN27 1RF, United Kingdom







Paints - Coatings

Autonomy - Computers - Software

Project Estimates


Project Objectives


PR Events - 

Construction - Modular


Diving - Hull survey & repair

Record Attempt

Electronics - Collision Avoidance COLREGS

Screens - 

Galley - 

Solar Arrays - tracking theory PIC PCB  MPPT PV trackers  Actuators & circuits

Hydraulics - Active hull - 

Stealth - Scorpion laser - Mine hunter

Hull Design - Capsize - SWASSH - Lubrication - Mass

Timber - 

Life Support - 

Tank Testing - Open water collision avoidance

Model ConstructionHulls - Wings - W'gens - ROV - AI

Tooling - 

Motors - DC v AC synchronous

Transmission - gearing & prop shaft/seals

Navigation  - Oceanographic Hydrographic Surveying

Treasure hunting - marine archaeology

Paints - Antifouling

Wind Turbines -




This website is copyright © 1991- 2017 Electrick Publications. All rights reserved. The bird logo and names Solar Navigator and Blueplanet Ecostar are trademarks ™.  The Blueplanet vehicle configuration is registered ®.  All other trademarks hereby acknowledged and please note that this project should not be confused with the Australian: 'World Solar Challenge'™which is a superb road vehicle endurance race from Darwin to Adelaide.  Max Energy Limited is an educational charity working hard to promote world peace.


Bluebird trademark legend, blue bird in flight logo  Bluefish flying fish autonomous robotic ships navigation system