Feasibility of a Wind-Propelled Spar Buoy for Use as a Meteorological Observation Platform in Hurricane Conditions
von Flotow, Andreas S., 1987-
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A novel vehicle concept is introduced and its feasibility as an autonomous, self-propelled weather buoy for use in violent storm systems is analyzed. The vehicle concept is a spar sailboat - consisting of only a deep keel and a sailing rig; no hull - a design which is intended to improve longevity in rough seas as well as provide ideal placement opportunities for meteorological sensors. To evaluate the hypothetical locomotive and meteorological observation capabilities of the concept sailing spar in hurricane-like conditions, several relevant oceanographic phenomena are analyzed with the performance of the concept vehicle in mind. Enthalpy transfer from the ocean to the air is noted as the primary driving force of tropical storms and therefore becomes the measuring objective of the sailing spar. A discrete, iterative process for optimizing driving force while achieving equilibrium between the four airfoil surfaces is used to steer the sailing spar towards any objective despite variable and opposing simulated winds. Based on the limitations of sailing theory, logic is developed to autonomously navigate the sailing spar between human-selected waypoints on a digitized geographic map. Due the perceived inability to measure air-sea enthalpy exchange because the nature of tropical storms and due to its small scale, the sailing spar is deemed infeasible as a hurricane-capable meteorological observation platform.