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Digi XBee Modules at the Heart of the AGH Solar and Autonomous Boats

AGH Solar Boat
"Our team really enjoys working with Digi XBee modules. We have built the modules into multiple projects, and find them easy to use and reliable."

Dominika Kurczyna, Project Coordinator of the AGH Solar Boat project

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AGH Solar Boat is a student project from the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Poland. The team builds zero-emission race boats using 100% renewable solar energy. Additionally, they are developing advanced green technology for modern water transport.

Innovation: From Solar to Autonomous Vehicle Technology

Recently, the team focused on developing autonomous vehicle technology for water transport. With experience in the construction of solar boats, they are working on an autonomous vessel designed to revolutionize sea transport.

The autonomous boat can be controlled from land by radio waves, but the default operating mode will be fully autonomous, based on cameras and GPS. Information about the boat, its location and status can be sent to the server via radio. Their technology uses the same method to send commands for the route and tasks to be performed by the boat.

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For this project, the team utilized two variants of the Digi XBee® SX 868 RF module, both of which have a long working range and high data transfer rates. Digi XBee SX 868 modules operate in the 863-870 MHz range, delivering excellent performance and interference immunity. These flexible modules incorporate the DigiMesh® protocol, but can also use the point-to-multipoint protocol.

“Our team really enjoys working with Digi XBee modules,” said Dominika Kurczyna, Project Coordinator of the AGH Solar Boat project. “We have built the modules into multiple projects, and find them easy to use and reliable.” She added that the team tested Digi XBee 802.15.4 and 2.4 GHz modules, but found that they required a greater communication range. “The Digi XBee Family Features Comparison chart, which compares many modules together, turned out to be very useful in helping to identify the right modules to meet our requirements.”

Building Models to Meet International Regulations

One challenge the team faced was due to different radio data transmission regulations in the US and Poland. They needed to ensure the wave transmission frequency met multiple requirements. By using two XBee modules, they were able to resolve the issue and meet the requirements for both countries.

Boat Technology of the Future

The AGH Solar Boat team believes that autonomous boats can become the future of maritime and inland waterway transport. A sensor system and advanced control systems make the boat operator-less. In addition, thanks to photovoltaic panels and lithium-ion batteries, the boat does not need to port for fuel loading. All this makes the autonomous boat an ecological boat with unlimited range.boatgraphic.png

The team has lofty goals for their autonomous boats, including using them as floating laboratories, which can navigate lakes and rivers. They can be designed to perform tasks such as collecting and testing water samples or mapping the bottom of the waterway. Additionally, the team plans to send the boats to international competitions in the US, where they will have an opportunity to test them for insights and continuous improvements.