Sailing the Ocean Blue

Last week, I had the chance to sit down with Alex Crease
('16), a member of Sailbot's mechanical subteam as well as their PR rep, and
talk to him about this year's Sailbot competition. This has been a very
exciting year for Olin's Sailbot team,
since:

A.     Olin College sponsored the International
Robotic Sailing Regatta
held in Gloucester MA a few weeks ago, AND

 

B.     

We
came in 4th Place!

The Sailbot Competition
consisted of 5 different events:

·        The Fleet
Race
- Teams control their boat via remote control in a standard boat race.
This race tests the physical design of the boat.

 

·        

Long
Distance
- This completely autonomous race takes a 10 km track around the
harbor. It is designed to test the boat's performance in long range and long
term conditions.

 

·        Navigation
- This competition, which tests for precision, is completely autonomous and
requires the boat to go straight and then around a buoy.

 

·       Station
Keeping
- In the station keeping trial, the boat must stay within a
specified area for 5 minutes and then exit the area as quickly as possible once
that time is up. This trial tests the boat's programming techniques.

 

·        Presentation
-
In this section of the competition, each team gives a presentation on
their design/building/testing. This allows judges to really see how teams
tackled the challenges of building the vessel.

 

Alex was absolutely brimming with
excitement when I talked to him during the last days of the competition. He
explained that his favorite part of the experience was getting to see the "vast
differences between teams and how they set up their boats." He was excited to
meet a diverse set of students with similar interests, including an
international team from Wales!

 

Alex also emphasized how exciting and
hands on the competition could be, explaining how the students must be prepared
for anything. He told me that they got hit by a tidal wave and that "making
sure [they] can fix it on time and get everything up and working properly is
really important."

Here
is a video
of Professor Drew Bennett and some of Alex's classmates talking
about the event.

And what are Sailbot's plans for the coming school year? Build a bigger
boat, implement a new type of code architecture, and continue preparation for
their transatlantic voyage!

Blog_StartingLine.jpg

Boats lined up at the
starting line

Blog_Boathouse.jpg

The Boathouse, where teams are able to make last
minute adjustments to their boats


Blog_Working.jpg

Even during competition, the team is never done working

Blog_FleetRace.jpg

Olin's boat (shown in
the foreground) during the fleet race

Blog_CloseUp.jpg

This year's finished
boat is ready for her close up!

Blog_WalkingBoat.jpg

The team practiced
station keeping by walking the boat around on the docks

Blog_Presentation.jpg

Olin has their chance
to give a presentation to the judges

For more information on the Sailbot Competition: http://www.sailbot.org/

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