2013 Sailboat Competition Nearly Doubles in Size

For the first time, high schools join race to build best robotic sail boat in a regatta sponsored by Olin College

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The 2012 Olin College Sailbot Team

Needham, MA (PRWEB) April 03, 2013

The robotic sailing regatta has more than doubled in size in one year, thanks to a growing interest in robotics and the addition of a 1-meter hull class, geared toward attracting high school participation. Hosted by Olin College and the City of Gloucester, the regatta has attracted nineteen teams, including seven high school teams looking to make waves. Last year, 8 teams participated in the regatta, including Olin, whose rookie team placed second overall. This year, Olin College will partner with the City of Gloucester to co-host the 7th International Robotic Sailing Regatta, Sailbot on June 9-13, 2013 in Gloucester Harbor. Event sponsors include: Instron, Maplesoft, and Nortek.

“We were inspired by First Robotics to take the concept to the sea,” said Andrew Bennett, an Olin faculty member and organizer of this year’s regatta. “Not only is robotics fun but it’s also the next big disruptive technology and we need to develop the next generation’s passion and expertise in this field.”

The global robotic sailing competition began in 2006 as a senior project at the University of British Columbia. The contest challenges student teams to design and build robotic sailboats capable of five on-water challenges which test the speed, maneuverability and navigational capabilities within the environmental variables. In addition, each team will present the innovative and dynamic methods used in the design and manufacturing process in detail.

Participating in this year’s event will be:

  •     Community Boating (Boston, MA)
  •     Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)
  •     Endicott College (Beverly, MA)
  •     Iowa State University (Ames, IA)
  •     Memorial University of Newfoundland (St. John's, Newfoundland)
  •     Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
  •     Olin College (Needham, MA)
  •     U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD)
  •     University of British Columbia (Vancouver, British Columbia)
  •     University of California (Santa Barbara, CA)
  •     University of Guelph (Guelph, Ontario)
  •     Tufts University (Medford, MA)

High School Participants Include:

  •     Albemarle High School (Charlottesville, VA)
  •     Gloucester High School (Gloucester, MA)
  •     NuVu Studios (Cambridge, MA)
  •     Newburyport High School (Newburyport, MA)
  •     Swampscott High School (Swampscott, MA)
  •     Walter Johnson High School (Bethesda, MD)
  •     El Dorado High School (Albuquerque, NM)
  •     Community Boating (Boston MA)

To help encourage younger teams to participate in the new league, the Olin College Sailbot team is prototyping a “Sailbot Kit”, which will be offered by U.S. Sailing for future regattas. The plan is to have the kit available at reduced or even no charge to high school teams around the country, lowering the barrier to entry for those interested in robotics.

Gloucester has proven to be the ideal spot for the competition. Beyond the significant relationship the town has with the sea, competition organizers have seen extensive support from business and community leadership as well as Endicott College, who are providing hosting facilities.

“The City of Gloucester welcomes these college and high school teams to our long tradition of maritime innovation,” said Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk. “John Hayes Hammond, Jr., would be smiling if he were to see these wonderful descendants of the unpiloted ’ghost ships‘he used to remotely operate from Hammond Castle.”

Autonomous watercraft technologies hold the potential to further advancements in national security and marine biology. Currently, the military and private sectors utilize a hybrid mix of manually operated and autonomous watercraft, but the production of fully unmanned oceanic vehicles, such as Sailbots, is now on the brink of reality. The ability to use self-guided robotic watercraft for coastal surveillance missions as well as water pollution sourcing, oil spill recovery and tsunami warning, eliminates the human risk typically associated with these tasks. Furthermore, the monitoring of marine animals will be greatly enhanced by this technology, allowing for passive observation of behaviors such as migration routes and pairing sites.

To learn more about Sailbot or to donate to the competition please visit Sailbot.org

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