First tests for Oceanbird wind-powered PCTC concept

Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) has tested a seven metre-long Oceanbird model with one wing on deck, in open water, ahead of more advanced tests in November.

As previously reported by, Oceanbird, a wind-powered pure car, truck carrier (PCTC) concept design. is a collaborative project between Wallenius Marine and KTH and SSPA, with support from the Swedish Transport Administration, which is acting as a co-financier.

At the launch of the project in September, Wallenius claimed that the Oceanbird design – which will be able to carry up to 7,000 cars – will ‘revolutionise transportation by sea’ as it is ‘powered by wind with reduced emissions by 90%’.

The company claimed that Oceanbird shows that ‘zero-emission shipping is possible, using wind as the main energy source’.

The new test undertaken at the beginning of October was to verify the working of the mechanical system, including wing actuation and structure.

According to Ulysse Dhomé, Project Supervisor at KTH, ‘The electronics was kept very simple. We controlled the wing, rudder and motors manually via radio control.

‘In the coming tests, all of that will be controlled by an on board “brain” that will use wind sensors, GPS and a compass to decide how to change the sails and the rudder to follow a defined course.’

In the October test, the KTH team practised mounting the wings, closing the hull and launching, and, says Dhomé, information was gathered about the use of specific components.

‘Some still had to be tested, and therefore we had prototyped them with 3D printers. Some of them failed because of the strength of the plastic. Before they failed, we could prove that the technical solution was good, and are able to go further in manufacturing the real metal pieces.’

The next phase of testing in November will involve the use of four sails, and the model will be equipped with more sensors and a more advanced onboard computer to control the boat.

Lesley Bankes-Hughes

Lesley Bankes-Hughes