A message in a bottle you can keep track of

Sending messages in bottles has been around since at least the Ancient Greeks, but it’s doubtful that anyone back then sent out a bottle quite like this. As part of a promotional campaign, Solo, a soft drink company based in Norway, recently built an 8-meter tall replica soda bottle outfitted with solar panels, a camera, and tracking technology and set it adrift in the ocean.

When Solo wanted to run a contest involving a sea-worthy bottle, it enlisted BĆ„rd Eker, co-owner of several vehicle design companies, to handle the construction. The finished product, which was completed after several months of work, measures 2.5 meters in diameter, weighs 2,500 kilograms, and is even registered and insured as a boat.

Solo towed the bottle off the coast of Tenerife in the Canary Islands and left it at the mercy of the currents. Inside the bottle is a case of Solo and a 12 square meter letter in various languages explaining that whoever finds the giant bottle wins a finders party in the nearest town and lists a phone number to call. The company also set up a website where users can post their guess as to where they think the bottle will eventually land, with a correct guess winning one real bottle of Solo for each nautical mile the oversized one travels…

…Solo consulted shipping insurance companies, ocean researchers, and marine biologists to ensure that the vessel fit the proper requirements for a drifting object in international waters…As such, the enormous bottle is equipped with navigation lights, an Automatic Identification System, a radar reflector, and GPS tracking technology, all powered through solar panels on the top. It also has a customized camera that is programmed to tweet a 360-degree panorama every eight hours and is outfitted with nozzles that clear the lenses with fresh water from an onboard tank.

Solo will continue to track the bottle as it travels the Atlantic Ocean and has stated it will collect it whenever and wherever it washes up. The company has even offered to tow it to shore if it nears a coastline that prohibits unmanned vessels from landing.

I’m a sucker for contests like this. Too bad I live hundreds of miles from any kind of coast.

Here’s how it was constructed.

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