The Future of Maritime Innovation

Published on June 9th, 2013

The SailBot International Robotic Sailing Regatta is a robotic sailing competition historically held in North America in which teams of university and college students compete. The first event, in 2006, was hosted by Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario and inspired by the success of a senior project at the University of British Columbia to build a robotic sailboat, teams have annually competed throughout the US and Canada.

The goal is to create an unmanned sailboat that navigates through a variety of challenges with limited, if any, human control. Students are able to use this friendly competition between schools to apply their engineering knowledge in a multi-disciplinary task that requires mechanical, electrical, and software skill to deal with this highly variable environment.

The 2013 event will be held in Gloucester, MA on June 9-13. The competition is open to the 1-meter, 2-meter SailBot Class, and an Open Class (which are boats up to 4 meters in length). The competition consists of six parts (five of which are scored) to test various aspects of the design, construction and control logic:

1. Fleet Racing (manual rudder and/or sail control incurs no points penalty)
2. Station keeping to test logic (manual control incurs 50% points penalty)
3. Autonomous navigation contest to test precision (no manual control allowed)
4. Judges evaluation of a presentation on the design, construction and innovation
5. Long Distance Race (manual control incurs loss of point per leg where manual control is used)
6. Autonomous Chase Race (boats chase each other until one catches up with the other). Demonstration only for 2013.

Here are the schools competing:

College & University teams
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 of Engineering (Needham, MA)
U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD)
University of Brittish Columbia (Vancouver, British Columbia)
University of California (Santa Barbara, CA)
University of Guelph (Guelph, Ontario)
Tufts University (Medford, MA)

High school teams
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)

Information from Steve Hannabury, Olin College of Engineering

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