The AUVSI Foundation
is well known for running many international student robotics competitions. The RoboSub competition is one of the largest outdoor international competitions that has been running annually since 1998. In this competition, university students must build a fully autonomous robotic vehicle to complete an obstacle course underwater. In 2008, the AUVSI Foundation started the RoboBoat competition in which students must build a robot to similarly complete an obstacle course but on the surface of the water.
As of today, the Maritime RobotX Challenge
has started in Singapore, which is the newest competition launched by the AUVSI Foundation. The tasks of this competition are inspired from both the RoboBoat and RoboSub competitions, however their scales are much more significant and they will take place in open water, instead of controlled environments.
To help students deal with the magnitude of the challenges of this competition, instead of having to design and build their own vehicles, the RobotX Challenge is providing teams with a new WAM-V USVx boat designed for this competition. The boat is an articulated catamaran (Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel) that is 4 metres long, 2.5 metres wide, and 1.3 metres tall (13x8x4 feet) and can support up to 136 kg (300 lbs) of additional payload.
WAM-V USVx Boat
The boat however is only a frame, and it needs to be augmented and turned into a robot by the teams: they need to build and add a propulsion system (convenient attachment points are provided), they need to conceive and assemble the electrical and power systems, they need to choose and install the computer and sensor systems, and they need to design and implement the control systems and mission planning software. To help teams with these augmentations, the competition provides a $25,000 stipend.
There are fifteen teams
registered in the competition — 3 teams from each Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and USA — who have been working hard on their robots since they received their WAM-Vs last November.
The tasks that the robots need to complete autonomously are:
- Demonstrate Navigation and Control: Navigate in a straight line between two sets of gates.
- Underwater Search and Report: Identify and locate an underwater pinger.
- Identify Symbol and Dock: Dock the robot in one of three bays determined by their symbols.
- Observe and Report: Find a light buoy and determine its light sequence.
- Detect and Avoid Obstacles: Navigate through a field of random obstacles.
Points are awarded based on the robots ability to complete of each task. The first task is mandatory for qualification, but the four other tasks are optional. In addition to these water-based tasks, the teams must also make a website, journal paper, and presentation (the land-based tasks) describing how they designed their robots. These will also be judged and included in the team's scoring. For more information, see the rules and tasks document (24-page PDF; 2MB).
Right now, teams are being judged on their land-based tasks, and are doing some last-minute testing in their free time. The qualification round will start on Thursday October 23rd, with the final round on Sunday October 26th. The RobotX website
will have daily recaps, and a live webcast of the finals: we are looking forward to seeing how the teams perform! In you're the Marina Bay area, don't hesitate to go see the competition yourself!
Edit: Added the Meet the Course video that was published a day after this post.