Robotic Sailboats Coming to Gloucester, Courtesy of Olin College of Engineering

Olin has partnered with the City of Gloucester to co-host the 7th International Robotic Sailing Regatta. In addition to a 2-meter Class and an Open Class (for boats up to 4-meters), a 1-meter category has also been added to the competition.

Needham, Mass. November 16, 2012


Olin College of Engineering will partner with the City of Gloucester to co-host the 7th International Robotic Sailing Regatta, Sailbot on June 9-13, 2013 in Gloucester, Mass.

The global robotic sailing competition began in 2006 as a senior project out of 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.

In addition to a 2-meter Class and an Open Class (for boats up to 4-meters), a 1-meter category has also been added. Teams that have yet to register will find that the construction of a 1-meter boat is achievable with time restraints. High school teams are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the additional category. The deadline for teams to indicate an intention to compete in the regatta is February 15th, 2013. Interested parties can email sailbot2013(at)gmail(dot)com, they will then receive proper registration materials once they indicate their participation. Please visit the 2013 Sailbot website for additional details.

"We are very excited to be partnering with the City of Gloucester to bring this event to the Northeast," said Drew Bennett, associate professor of mechanical engineering. "There is a rich history of maritime innovation in Gloucester and a desire to learn more about how the local community can leverage that experience to find solutions for our oceanographic landscape in the 21st century. Sailbot is the perfect opportunity to provide a fun, educational challenge for students interested in the future of our Oceans."

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.

Despite being rookies to the regatta, Olin College took second place overall last June with their boat "Blackbody Radiation" and also received special commendation for their success in the navigational portion of the contest. The team's success was also recognized by one of its sponsors, National Instruments; team representatives Jaime McCandless '11 and Jason Curtis '11, along with faculty members Drew Bennett and Dave Barrett, were selected to give a keynote presentation about Sailbot at National Instruments Week 2012.

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