Student-Built Robotic Boats to Compete

Monday, June 08, 2009

College Students from the United States and Canada will bring their robotic boats to Virginia Beach to compete for up to $20,000 in prize money. The event, the second International Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) Competition, is being sponsored by the U.S. Office of Naval Research and the Washington, DC-based Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Foundation. The competition will occur June 18-21 at the Founder’s Inn and Spa in Virginia Beach.

The small lake on the resort’s property will be turned into the site of a simulated shipwreck of a ferry boat with passengers awaiting rescue. The student-built boats will be challenged to navigate a treacherous series of dangerous reefs and dock with the sinking ferry to rescue the passengers. Adding to the challenge, the rescue boat will have to defend itself against a group of pirates as it makes its escape!

“The main point of this Competition is to make students aware of the challenges and fun of designing robotic boats and to hopefully get them interested in pursuing a career in this rapidly growing industry,” said Daryl Davidson, executive director of the AUVSI Foundation. “To the uninitiated observer who thinks these are remote controlled boats, it may look easy. But when you consider that once the boat leaves the dock, it has to make all of its decisions without any human assistance at all. That’s no small task.”

Holding the Competition in the Hampton Roads area is a deliberate decision and reflects the region’s growing technology reputation. The U.S. Navy is very interested in ASVs and much of the leading development in this area is taking place at the Naval Amphibious Base at Little Creek. Additionally, the region’s strong military-industrial community and technology focus provide a perfect backdrop for this event.

Competing teams are: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida Atlantic University, University of Central Florida, University of Michigan, University of Rhode Island, University of Toronto, Villanova University and Virginia Tech University.

The AUVSI Foundation is an education-oriented charity which organizes and sponsors seven annual robotic-related student competitions. The Foundation supports the goals and objectives of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

(www.auvsi.org/competitions/surface.cfm)

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