Every experienced maker knows that it’s best to test new software and hardware on a small, low-cost scale. Before pouring money and time into a professional-quality build, you should first run some cheap and dirty experiments. That often means you have projects built from balsa wood and hot glue that you really don’t want other people to see. That’s the case with YouTube channel Rctestflight’s Autonomous Tupperware Boat, but it turned out to be quite the attention getter anyway.
The Autonomous Tupperware Boat was built to test out ArduRover, which is autonomous ground vehicle control software created by the same developers as the popular ArduPilot drone flight controller software. While they do also offer ArduSub software for AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles), the ArduRover software is better suited to boats that stick to the surface. A simple boat with two propellers and no rudders is controlled more like a car than a submarine. Rctestflight just needed a way to test it out before building a high-quality boat.
As the name should have hinted at, they used a simple plastic Tupperware storage container for the hull of the boat. The controller and other electronics are housed within a separate, smaller Tupperware container with a sealed lid to keep out any splashing water. The two motors and propellers are glued to the outside of the hull, as they don’t require any protection from the water. After some tweaking of the parameters, the Autonomous Tupperware Boat was able to pilot itself from one waypoint to another in a small lake. It even managed to grab the attention of passersby — one of whom identified it as an “illegal police drone.” At the end of the day, the test was successful and they can now move onto a more polished version.