Wave-less boat inventor Karunathilaka wins ‘The Ray’ award for innovation
By Rashika Fazali
‘The Ray’ award, a lifetime award for innovation given in memory of the late Ray Wijewardene was won by inventor Indresri Karunathilaka yesterday.
The award was presented by the Ray Wijewardene Charitable Trust (RWCT) in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission and support of the Commercial Bank. Senior Minister of Scientific Affairs Prof. Tissa Vitarana was the Chief Guest.
Karunathilaka was also given a grant of Rs. 1 million by Commercial Bank, to assist him to prepare his invention for commercialisation. All six nominees were also awarded medals at the event. Jubilant after his win, Karunathilaka told the Daily FT: “The main target for me was to reorganise the transport service, but now I want to start a service at Nagadeepa and at several other islands.
I also want to launch this concept in Sri Lanka and export it in the future.” His winning idea, a wave-less boat, came about when he contemplated how to prevent a wave occurring as a boat travels, with Karunathilaka envisioning changing the standard hull of a boat from a ‘V’ shape by including non-symmetric twin hulls fixed in inverse, allowing the water to travel though the hollow mid section of the hull, thereby preventing the formation of waves to the sides of the boat. In addition, the propeller set in the middle of the boat further cuts the wave, minimising even the ripples cause while the boat is moving at high speeds.
What makes his invention truly stand out is that it is not only made purely from recyclable steel and aluminium, but its unique shape combined with its weight of 4,000 kg contributes to the stability of the gravity point, making it unsinkable. Karunathilaka is also experimenting with making his product 100% environmentally friendly and running the boat on bio-energy.
Addressing the gathering at the awards ceremony, Prof. Vitarana said: “We are honouring the greatest inventor and innovator in Sri Lanka. Ray Wijewardene had a unique mind and saw things from a different angle, different from everyone else. He had an impact on the economy and the thinking population in a novel way.”
Aimed at recognising remarkable local innovators and offering a rare and unique opportunity for Sri Lankan inventors, ‘The Ray’ is presented to a Presidential Award Winner of the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission.
Karunathilaka won a Presidential Award in 2008 for his eco-friendly innovation and later in 2009 he bagged the International Silver Prize at the Seoul International Invention Fair (2009).
While Commercial Bank provided the grant for this inaugural ‘The Ray’ award, the University of Moratuwa will provide the technical support necessary to convert the winner’s invention to a product/process ready for the market.
A documentary featuring the works of the six chosen inventors for the prestigious award was also shown at the ceremony, making for an interesting and inspiring evening for aspiring inventors.
Taking the event to the international arena, the RWCT has included the Ray Award ceremony as an event of the inaugural Conference of the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia (AASSA) – an association of leading scientists from academies of science and technology in Asia and Australasia with 34 member academies of science representing 30 countries – to be held in Colombo.