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Project works toward drone boats

A collaboration between shipbuilder Swiftships and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette imagines the possibility of captainless boats navigating inland waterways near and far.

The Anaconda is a 35-foot boat marketed worldwide to military outfits seeking nimble maneuverability in tight and shallow waterways. UL researchers took to the Atchafalaya River Tuesday to demonstrate their progress outfitting the boat to autonomously navigate the challenges posed by inland waterways.

With the slide of a single finger across the screen of an iPad, the boat's Rolls Royce thrusters jolt to life, and the craft's direction follows the finger's drag.

“Today is remote control,” Arun Lakhotia, professor of computer science at UL and the lead faculty member on the project, told “It's to show that we can reliably communicate with the boat using an iPad and not crash.”

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