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You are here : Home » News » Hydrocontest 2015 : Navigating drones tested in Switzerland


Hydrocontest 2015 : Navigating drones tested in Switzerland

D 19 August 2015     H 07:42     A Dronautic Organisation     C 0 messages

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On July 15th to 19th, The 15 au 19 juillet Hydrocontest 2015 took place in Switzerland. It is a challenge for students who did compete in two divisions : Mass and Light Transport. The boats which did navigate on a lake present very interesting ideas on what could be an offshore navigating drone, a Dronautic.

Hydrocontest Press Release

The 2nd edition of the international student challenge on innovation at the service of nautical and maritime energy efficiency has come to an end yesterday in Lausanne, Switzerland. Optimal and extreme weather were present throughout the competition, with clement blue skies for those spending the week on the banks of Lake Geneva, along with temperatures rising to heatwave level, causing equipment and teams to suffer.

The « Mass Transport » final on Sunday morning, setting the Swiss against the French Polytechnicians, was won 3-1 by the EPFL with its semi-submersible craft. During the race, their 200kg-ballasted boat completed the course in record time. Its constant high speed made it a winner in spite of the French counterpart maintaining a steadier track. Used to being in the finals, the École Polytechnique (France) went on to win a few hours later in the « Lightweight Transport » category after demonstrating their masterly handling of the race against the Swiss from the Haute École d’Ingénierie et d’Architecture in Fribourg. Much to the public’s delight, throughout the week, these teams took turns in clocking up exceptional times with their foiler catamarans, both fast and stable in flight.

The various Grands Prix and prizes were awarded at the end of the last event in the HYDROCONTEST, the 2-hour “Long Distance Race” in which 16 boats competed at the same time this year. It was won by the HEIA Fribourg after the team overtook Ecole Polytechnique, whose boat had remained in the 1st position until 2 minutes before the end and had then run out of battery. ENSTA Bretagne & ENS Paris-La Villette were able to go fast enough in the last quarter of the race to move up into third.

The « HYDROCONTEST Innovation » prize goes to ENSM Marseille for the heavyweight category and to the National University of Colombia in Medellin for the lightweight one, for their innovative propositions. Among the trophies awarded, the Australian Maritime College stands out for the design of its prototype in the « Best Boat Design » category, HEIA Fribourg won the « Spirit and Values » prize as well as the peer-awarded « Students Prize » and the team from the ENSM Le Havre & Arts et Métiers Lille took the « Best Communication » prize.


It has been apparent throughout the competition that most of the teams taking part for the second time have benefitted from the experience gained the first time round. The projects they presented were among the most accomplished, largely due to all the thinking that has gone on between the two editions. Proof, if proof were needed, that in addition to good ideas, repeated trial and error, application and adjustments, innovation does not happen overnight. It takes time. Throughout the week, in a short space of time, each day spent in the paddocks enabled the competitors to fine-tune their prototypes, thanks to the mutual aid and operational peer support between the teams, including those neck-and-neck out in the lead.

One thing is certain: there has been no shortage of innovative ideas at the HYDROCONTEST 2015. Among the best of the innovative propositions in terms of industrial application, the ENSM Marseille designed an extremely well-honed SWATH (quasi-submersible boat), whose torpedo housing the load can be raised or lowered depending on the load aboard and draft. In industrial terms, this should facilitate loading and make harbour entry possible in shallow water. Several teams, including the ENSM Le Havre & Arts et Métiers Lille, Polytechnique and the ENSM Marseille, have also carried out in-depth research into construction materials used in the building of the prototypes. In keeping with an environmentally-friendly approach, the students have developed boats from natural recyclable materials such as linen fibre or jute, with help from various suppliers among whom are Arkema, Gold of Bengal or Kairos, the company founded by the great yachtsman Roland Jourdain, who is one of the event’s patrons.


Set up as an international innovation laboratory, another of the HYDROCONTEST’s declared vocations is to join forces with professionals and to co-develop « Industrial Challenges ». Promising projects can therefore be put to the test in conditions where they have to face and adapt to the economic reality of the sector. At the initiative of the Hydros Foundation is the involvement of ABB which will be offering participants the opportunity to carry out a mission on the hydrodynamic optimisation of its Azipod® propulsion system for container ships, ferries and tankers, developed by the company with a view to improving energy efficiency.

The HYDROCONTEST adventure is also and most of all made possible thanks to the trust and support of its partners (Lombard Odier, the Vaud Canton, the Loterie Romande, the Fond pour l’Efficacité Energétique), its patrons Claudie Haigneré and Roland Jourdain, and the sponsors of the teams taking part. The teams have become true professionals in terms of their organisation and preparation for the competition and have managed to obtain the support of well-known international companies.

In 2016, the challenge for the 3rd edition of the HYDROCONTEST will be raised once again to engineering and architecture school the world over and to the deciders of the international nautical and maritime industry. In the meantime, with the essential support of its patrons, sponsors, donors and ambassadors, the Hydros Foundation will be pursuing its programme of enhancing awareness, of promotion and education about energy efficiency in the design of tomorrow’s boats. And it will continue to imagine a more sustainable development thanks to technological innovation and the sharing of knowledge.

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