Unmanned boat Snoopy Sloop crashes in Atlantic bid

Snoopy Sloop launched from Barton-on-Sea beach Snoopy Sloop was launched from Barton-on-Sea beach on Tuesday

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An unmanned boat has crashed into rocks off the Isle of Wight hours after it was launched in a bid to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

Retired Nato scientist Robin Lovelock's 4ft (1.2m) boat Snoopy Sloop set sail from the Hampshire coast on Tuesday.

But its tracking system placed it on land near The Needles at 18:45 GMT.

Mr Lovelock blamed a strong tide for pushing the boat eastwards and hoped, if it was undamaged, it could restart its quest to reach the Bahamas.

He wrote on his website: "Snoopy is wrecked near The Needles. We have an off shore north wind now bashing him against rocks."

Mr Lovelock has developed the £450 boat on Bray Lake near his home in Sunninghill, Berkshire, over the past four years.

'Very unlucky'

A Global Positioning System (GPS) computer was designed to pilot the boat for the 5,000 miles (8,000km).

He urged members of the public not to put themselves in danger by trying to rescue the craft.

Map progress of Snoopy Sloop The boat's tracking system showed it on the Isle of Wight, instead of on its way to the Bahamas

"Depending on damage, he can either be relaunched... or be fixed to sail again soon," he added.

"However, this seems increasingly unlikely. The good news is that he worked well - and he was very unlucky.

"A launch an hour earlier, or from a few hundred yards further west, and he might have made it past The Needles."

It is thought no unmanned boat has ever crossed the Atlantic. Recent attempts hit weather and technical problems.

Travelling at 3mph, it would take Snoopy Sloop about six months to complete the trip.

Alongside the home-built technology on the boat is a model of cartoon dog Snoopy at the bow, which Mr Lovelock said showed he was not taking the project "too seriously".

Since 2010, two French boats have foundered in bad weather and a University of Aberystwyth vessel suffered technical failure.

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