The design and build of an autonomous hydrofoiling unmanned surface vessel for search and rescue missions
Group Members
Henrique Araujo, Jessica Carter, James Hawkins-Dady, Diogo Nunes, Alex Pardoe, Robert Williams
Professor Stephen Turnock, Dr Jon Downes
SlingShot, Senix, CompoSIDE, Wolfson Unit
Project C-Flyer is the successful design of a hydrofoiling autonomous surface vessel specifically created to be a first responder in search and rescue scenarios. Each year, over 40 of RNLI callouts require no manned assistance but still put the voluntary lifeboat crews and risk. C-Flyer is the answer to this problem.

With autonomous launching, C-Flyer can make it to over 85 percent of callouts before a manned lifeboat is in the water. This gives the opportunity to advise on whether the lifeboat is needed or provide other emergency services with critical information that can help save a life. The four-metre vessel has a camera that can detect a casualty in the water from 4.9 nm away, and when at the incident, the speakers and microphone allow two-way communication between casualties and the operator. The hydrogen power plant provides a green solution to the propulsion system and allows the vessel to reach speeds of over 35 knots.

To assist the design, a 1:2 scale demonstrator model was constructed as a proof of concept and to allow for measurement of the resistance profile. Finite Element Analysis was used to analyse the hull structure and to ensure that C-Flyer could operate in the severe sea states of the English Channel. The benefit of the final design is that C-Flyer could also be used, with only minimal changes, to successfully perform other tasks such as security roles or research.
Retracted forward and aft foils
Final design proposal with two-man life raft installed


Launching project C-Flyer in the Solent Towing Tank


View of the bow of the C-Flyer in the Solent towing tank
Project C-Flyer being towed at slow speed


View of the transom of the C-Flyer in the Solent towing tank