The Kenterprise Is an ArduPilot-Powered Boat That Drives Itself

Beautiful autonomous water vehicle completed a few years behind schedule.

Jeremy S. Cook
6 days agoVehicles

As a university project in 2018, Jan of “Basement Engineering” and a team of other students decided to create an autonomous boat, with the stated purpose of tracking toxic algae concentrations at a local lake. It was an ambitious goal, which had to be undertaken in six months, with a budget of €1,500 (and the restriction of not being able to purchase electronics from China). They unfortunately ended up not accomplishing this goal, but the professor still gave them credit for their hard work, and didn’t outright fail them.

Fast forward to 2020, and Jan has now finally finished the build as a self-driving vehicle demonstrator, though without environmental sensing. The boat uses a pair of extremely powerful racing motors, which are liquid cooled via water bottle reservoirs stored onboard. The unit’s battery setup progressed from a LiPo to a car battery, and finally to a LiFePo4 setup.

The “aqua-drone” controlled by an ArduPilot-enable “flight” controller. Impressively, it's versatile enough to pilot a boat on a pre-programmed route, even though it’s normally used for airborne drones. Onboard RGB LEDs flash with the help of an Arduino Nano, and while it doesn’t sense algae, it does feature GPS navigation, video and telemetry feedback over radio, and can of course receive signals from the RC-style transmitter itself.

The video is a real a testament to not giving up on a project, where most would simply forget about it. As for the name “Kenterprise,” kentern is the German word for stinking, and you can probably figure out the rest for yourself.

Jeremy S. Cook
Engineer, maker of random contraptions, love learning about tech. Write for various publications, including Hackster!
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