No Captain, No Problem: Self-Driving Boats

RoBoats on Angle Lake
Imagine if everyone could get around the lake easily and safely, without tired, distracted or inebriated drivers. Time spent boating could be time spent visiting instead. With robot operated boats (aka: RoBoats) that concept is rapidly becoming a reality!

RoBoats Are No Longer Merely Fantasy

Driverless Vessels on Angle Lake?
At a recent Study Session, science guy Bill Nye asked the SeaTac City Council if it would be feasible for “autonomous” or driverless vehicles controlled by computer program and not operated by a human being to begin functioning on Angle Lake. 

This is not about a “science project,” Nye said, but about discovering the reality of such future development, “will people buy into this,” adding that “safety is very important to us” and that test vehicles will be certified and marine legal. SeaTac, said Nye, could be a “center for excellence” with such a study that eventually could get federal or other grants and open additional development possibilities.

While other ‘driverless’ studies for cars is ongoing nationally, the opportunity exists for SeaTac to become among the first in the nation for recreational pilotless seafaring vessels. Council members agreed that it would be really cool to hop onto a self driving boat from the park and go for a nice sunset cruise around the lake. 

How it works
The actual idea of a vessel without crew is not new. As far back as 1973, Rolf Schonknecht, in his book ‘Ships and Shipping of Tomorrow’, envisaged a future where a ship’s captain could performed his duties in an office building onshore, while an on-board computer navigated the ship. Nye stated “We’re building a safer boat captain that is always alert and never distracted. Our fully self-driving technology will handle all boat operations so you can go from dock to dock without ever having to take the wheel.”
Trial Participants Out For An Enjoyable Boat Ride

The vessels are equipped with radar and software that are designed to detect swimmers, kayakers, paddle boarders, water fowl, other boats and more from a distance of up to two hundred yards away in all directions. Imagine if you will the following situation; our vehicle is about to drive straight across the lake surrounded by many other objects nearby, including a kayaker up ahead. The boat sensors observe that the kayaker has extended their left arm. Detecting the kayaker’s hand signal, our onboard software predicts that the kayaker will move to the left side of our path of travel. Our software then plans for our boat to slow down and make room for the kayaker to pass safely and comfortably ahead of us. Our boats sensors and software detect and predict the behavior of not only the kayaker, but of all the lake traffic and swimmers around us. 

This autonomous technology relies on over 2 million terrestrial miles of real world experience collected from driverless street vehicle testing and has taught boats to navigate safely and comfortably through everyday marine traffic. The self driving boats will operate safely through many complex scenarios in real open water situations and can adjust to unexpected changing conditions like floating debris or obstructions and respond to complex cues at docks and boat ramps. We’ve also taught our boats to drive defensively, so they try to stay out of blind spots and nudge away from larger vessels or groups of swimmers. The first autonomous vessels are set to make their debut trial run Sunday, April 16th during the ALSC Easter Bunny Dock Hop. 

During the six month trial period all residents and visitors using the lake will be required to wear a transponder jacket.  This will ensure that the self driving boat sensors can accurately detect objects in the water as an added safety precaution. Vests will be available for check out through the SeaTac Parks Department by contacting Lawrence Ellis at (206) 973-4681.
Safety Sensors Vests Must Be Worn At All Times While On The Lake

Anyone discovered on the lake without a vest will receive an initial warning and be asked to leave the area. Subsequent failures will result in a fine of up to $250.00.  “Sure the fine seems a little steep” Ellis stated, “But it’s for the public’s own safety and the funds will help cover any damages that may result during the trial”. The results of the trial period tests will be reviewed at the September Regular Council Meeting.

(Postscript:  This is an April Fools Joke)

Community Meeting for a New Waterfront Park

A new two acre waterfront park will be situated on the Hughes Property site located on the west side of Angle Lake. 
Aerial View of the Site
The City of SeaTac will host an informational meeting for the public and Angle Lake Community to learn more about the upcoming park system expansion project and an opportunity to view the planned designs. 
Wednesday, March 29, 6:00- 8:00 PM 
City Hall Council Chambers

Barker Landscape Architects, is contracted to design a new community park that will provide opportunities to walk and enjoy the beautiful shoreline setting on the south west shore of Angle Lake via an eight-foot wide trail connecting the existing Angle Lake public park to the new waterfront park location. 

Overview of New Park, Walkway, and Hotels
For more information please call Lawrence Ellis, Director of Parks, Community Programs and services at 206.973.4681

The Docktor is In!

Is your dock in need of repair or are you thinking about replacing or adding a dock? If so, you are in luck. 
Starting in April and over the course of the following few months a contractor specializing in dock construction, repair, and piling replacement will be visiting our lake. If you are in need of any dock related services please contact: Lonnie Goulet @ (206) 948-2009 for additional information.

A boat dock is a valuable part of any property and must be maintained or repaired to retain that value. Maintenance is often the more cost-effective solution and should be carried out on a regular, dependable basis.
Boat docks are constantly exposed to moisture, changes in temperature, sunlight, and inclement weather, all of which can have long-term consequences when it comes to their aesthetic appeal, safety, and functionality. Maintenance can require time and energy; repairs are considerably costlier. In either case, dock owners have many components to consider when caring for their investment.

Components that May Need Repair
Many people do not realize how many components go into dock construction beyond the obvious boards that make up the decking. Although these certainly require care, other elements, such as the rope and barrels underneath a floating dock, are less accessible and may require more technical repairs. Repairing a float, for example, costs between $170 and $190. For posts, metal pipes and other sub-structural components, repairs are generally more costly, ranging from $300 to $400, conservatively. 

Reasons for Repair
As mentioned above, docks can require repairs for a number of reasons, most of them having to do with environmental conditions. The overall average cost for repairing a permanent dock is $180 to $220. Portions of nearly all dock types are continuously exposed to water, which can be hard on wood, metal and concrete alike. Storm damage is another common, weather-related issue, especially winter storms where the water may freeze and thaw. Framing repairs generally cost around $200 to $215. Dry rot can also cause damage to wood decking and posts with repairs costing about $200. 

Maintenance to Minimize Repairs
What can be done to reduce the necessity of costly repairs?
The answer is simple: maintenance.

One important way to maintain a dock is through sealing the wood regularly. This process applies a protective coating that can significantly reduce weather-damage. However, costs are extremely variable, depending on the product used. Similarly, building a deck from treated lumber and replacing any wooden pieces with treated lumber is a good investment, although treated lumber tends to cost somewhat more. A regular pressure washing between applications of sealant can remove mildew or other harmful substances. To have a dock professionally pressure washed, the cost generally runs $1 per square-foot.

For metal parts, making a regular check of their condition is advisable in order to spot rust, corrosion, or other issues as soon as possible. Screws, nuts, and bolts, for instance, can work themselves loose and may require tightening. Sometimes hinges or other moving parts may require lubrication to last longer. Rust protection may also be an option for those who prefer bright screws and hardware. 

2017 ALSC Spring Newsletter

We’re excited to announce that the 2017 edition of the Angle Lake Shore Club Spring Newsletter has been sent to all active members.

Going to an all electronic delivery of our newsletter allows the club to keep production and distribution costs to zero while presenting to you, the member, a more media rich, visually pleasing design offering more photos and color graphics and dynamic formatting than a print edition allows. Our Spring Newsletter is packed with information regarding club activities and announcements you won’t want to miss, so check your inbox to confirm receipt of your copy.

If you have not received a copy of the newsletter already, any one or more reasons might be the cause: 
  • You have not yet renewed your membership in the ALSC.
  • The club no longer has your current or correct email address on file.
  • The email sent to you containing the newsletter may have landed in your spam folder!
If you'd like to verify your member status and/or confirm that our bookkeeper has your correct contact information – please send an email with your request to the Shore Club email box at Else, membership renewal forms are available for download HERE.